Excerpts From the Diary of Damocles
I don't dare speak too loudly,
some timbres could be fatal--
that string is not too strong
I think: and at times I have
to breathe. Or maybe I fear
my paraphrastic exhalations
will spoil the oiled perfection
of its sleekness, will mist
over that brightness whose
needle sharp point compasses
my every stray. I am as
edgy in my way as it--
as little-rippled, as subtle.
Prey to vapors, to sudden
icecap thaws, seismic
dicethrows, the world wires me,
I hex myself up to a pitch
of infinite finicky sensitiveness,
alert to every window opening
down in my castle's bowels,
every mousehole emergence.
A simple housefly--a moth
murders my rest when it
mistakes for light that glittering
blade in which every passing
glint is glassed--barometer
of my highest apprehension.
I know my fear is only a ploy,
a sticking point in the old
hairsplitting debate of the winds . . .
I the first split personality
divide into a Dam/an Ocles,
a mother and her myopic
son. Or, since everything
is reversed in its mirroring
shaft, a Selcomad, mad and sulky.
Language does this to me.
It inverts my position: King
I am, but await my crown,
unmanned until it come down;
my kingdom lies in twain
to each, I am in half to all.
If only I could reach up, up,
and take it in my teeth,
suckle that penile projection,
cloister its unremitting hardness
in the sheath of my throat--
swordswallower who exalts
his posture with this adjunct
second spine, aligning gut with
palate, my groin with my height.
Male means to be in the crime
of things here, this frail planet
killed wide, maimed down.
Male means murder, rape and war.
Its indomitable will will not allow
approach. All broach will fail.
It must fall on you or not at all.
Insane, isn't it? History hangs
impregnable to the mind, eager
to halve your brain with rift,
intrusion and strife, the warrior's
dissonance. No whole is hallowed,
no peace. Don't let the humor of
this scene (when the phallus
falls the fears recede) attend
you away from its cruelty.
I stand here exposed to whose
justice, my crime my Y
chromosome. That Y aims
his prick point down at me.
A dowsing wand that seeks
my artesian quench, my depths
of death. His insistence
sustains me in steel, his encased
incursion covers my melt,
my metal. Each day he rights me:
his richterscaled tremors are
my weather, my wherefore:
his gloss his gleam condemns
my fortunes, his ore loads my gold
with schist. His soliloquy
interrupts mine at every word.
Linebreaks enforced by sword,
his poem sunders my rhythm.
All mine at last is made him.
His blade remembers my name . . .
Bill Knott's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (Excerpts From the Diary of Damocles by Bill Knott )
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