blackbirdonline journalSpring 2009  Vol. 8  No. 1
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Rousing the Machinery
     The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.
          —William Blake

Observe the perpetual boy, as one
          with the pop-eyed crowd. He’s come to see

the King’s menagerie: camel, bear
          leopard, lion, tyger—stripe over stripe,

swinging its heavy head, with each sullen step.
          He notes the gold globe of its pupil,

the eyes’ bulge and slow blink. Who will extol
          this captive, pacing the round tower

room? Who will grind its bones for luck, pluck
          stiff whiskers for a paintbrush, rend fat

for an aphrodisiac? Who will inhale
          scent of musk, tang of urine

soaked in stone, sing marvelous, its assets?
          The boy?

This morning in Raleigh’s exurban flank,
          I watch the bad boys of Selma

Alternative High School craft paper wasps.
          They loft them across the bedlam

of the classroom to where the tyger, perfect-
          bound, sleeps soundly in my hands. With a stroke,

a stroke, a stroke, the machinery is roused
          and in the northeast corner of the classroom,

above our heads, gangly wasps disgorge wood to make
          paper. Take aim: the miracle occurs

in a vessel, an enclosure, in a lidded pot
          on a hot stove, in a woman’s body

where a child grows, or in the insect
          jaw, ganglia, and lobe.  end

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