23
May

There is nothing … (poem)

Found Parable by J.D. McClatchy (published in the 15 November 1993 issue of the New Yorker, p. 72)

In the mens room at the office today

some wag has labelled the two stalls

the Erotic and the Political.

The second seems suitable for the results

of my business, not for what thinking

ordinarily accompanies it.

So Ive locked myself into the first because,

though farther from the light bulb overhead,

it remains the more conventional

and thereby illuminating choice.

The on its walls is more desperate.

As if I had written them

there myself, but only because by now

I have seen them day after day,

I know each boast, each plea,

the runty widowers resentments,

the phone number for good head.

Todays fresh drawing:

a womans torso, neck to outflung knees,

with breasts like targets and at her crotch

red felt-tip hair to guard

a treasure half would, half wisecrack.

The first critic of desire is always

the self-possessed sensualist.

With all that wall as his margin,

he had sniffed in smug ballpoint

OBVIOUSLY DONE BY SOMEONE

WHO HAS NEVER SEEN THE REAL THING.

Under that, in a later hand,

the local pinstripe aesthete

had dismissed the daydreamers crudity

and its critics edgy literalism.

His block letters had squared,

not sloping, shoulders: NO,

BY SOMEONE WHO JUST CANT DRAW.

Were the two opinions

converging on the same moral point?

That a good drawing is the real thing?

Or that the real thing

can be truly seen only through anothers

eyes? But now that I trace it through

other jokes and members,

the bottom line leads to a higher inch

of free space on the partition-

a perch above the loose

remarks, like the pimps doorway

or the Zen masters cliff-face ledge.

THERE ARE NO REAL THINGS

writes the philosopher. But he, too,

has been misled by everything

the mind makes of a body.

When the torso is fleshed out

and turns over in the artists bed,

when the sensualist sobs over her,

when the critic buttons his pants,

when the philosophers scorn sinks back

from a gratified ecstasy,

then it will be clear to each

in his own way. There is nothing

we cannot possibly not know.

Most viewed Jokes (20)