Monday, November 30, 2009


Android Clarinetist

In that century before
we entered the innermost atom,
they played games
like Physionotrace:

assorted noses, eyes, and lips
that could be placed
on the surfeit slate
of a cutout face

and rearranged
to form a Hottentot or Jew.
The question of race
is still that inscrutable

God-in-a-box, back
to the outermost Adam,
simple body siphoned
like a water organ,

from whose subtle variations
spring the complex
machine: trunk
pulleyed by levers,

potato-headed predecessor.
In the garden, he could choose
to grow or starve
one flower

to force another
to bloom—thus today
metamorphic industry,
metaphoric as a bird

on the branch of a bare tree:
curiosity, a kind of pain
with conscience.

Is it sour or sweetness
we desire
when we turn back
to the code we've cracked,

as the Calvinists looked away
from the Android Clarinetist,
physiognomy free
from the defect

of imperfect individuality,
not by any definition a man—
this kind of music
wooden fingers make.

-Robin Ekiss

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