Sunday, October 16, 2005

“On the Rectum of Peacocks” by Gabriel Gudding

very little has been written. Moored to the ploppy mud by a languid mind, the bird is strapped to its tube of paste by a frail girdle. Having not much brawn, and being rickety in its construction, it is a kind of wicker bird. The rectum of a Peacock is thus like a flask in a picnic basket, as it might fall out if the bird is jostled. In this sense the Peacock’s rectum is a fender on an ancient car: it sits at the back and rattles. If one kicks a Peacock, it is not unusual to knock the rectum clear out of the bird.

Peacocks have one rectum in common which they pass among them from Peacock to Peacock like a relay baton. Some people think that talent is like that. But it isn’t: talent is not like the butt-baton of Peacocks. Any community has a surplus of talent and is unlike the community of Peacocks, which has an insufficiency of rectums.

The anus is a kind of larynx of the nether region: it is the only vocal cord unattached to the lungs. As such, it is an “independent” vocal cord—a kind of “colony” among vocal cords—a settlement of the voice in one of the body’s distant regions. The rectum, for instance, is the rec room of the body, where our feces romp as children before entering the world. There is a certain amount of pomp at their graduation.

Each rectum is highly personal. Whereas a colostomy bag is a much more public device inasmuch as it hangs outside the body. A dog’s rear end is public, but a human one is not. Insofar as the anus will allow light into the rectum during a fart, the rectum is a kind of camera obscura. Diarrhea, before it is released from the body, is like an annoyed Raven in a leather jar. Once I tried to kill a Walleye after a large dinner, but I had grown so fat at table that I had to relearn how to punch, and I felt like Humpty Dumpty trying to learn kung fu. My rectum became essential to my weight loss.

In the center of even the best display, is a little jumble of mush essential to the survival of said display. Once when a boy, I saw my mother’s vulva reflected in a puddle. And do we all not come from puddles, waddling out with clapboard plumage—and eyes to be seen?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

“The Beautiful Bowel Movement” by John Updike

Though most of them aren’t much to write about—
mere squibs and nubs, like half-smoked pale cigars,
the tint and stink recalling Tuesday’s meal,
the texture loose and soon dissolved—this one,
struck off in solitude one afternoon
(that prairie stretch before the late light fails)
with no distinct sensation, sweet or pained,
of special inspiration or release,
was yet a masterpiece: a flawless coil,
unbroken, in the bowl, as if a potter
who worked in this most frail, least grateful clay
had set himself to shape a topaz vase.
O spiral perfection, not seashell nor
stardust, how can I keep you? With this poem.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

“Shit List; or, Omnium-gatherum of Diversity into Unity” by A.R. Ammons

You’ll rejoice at how many kinds of shit there are:
gosling shit (which J. Williams said something
was as green as), fish shit (the generality), trout

shit, rainbow trout shit (for the nice), mullet shit,
sand dab shit, casual sloth shit, elephant shit
(awesome as process or payload), wildebeest shit,

horse shit (a favorite), caterpillar shit (so many dark
kinds, neatly pelleted as mint seed), baby rhinoceros
shit, splashy jaybird shit, mockingbird shit

(dive-bombed with the aim of song), robin shit that
oozes white down lawnchairs or down roots under roosts,
chicken shit and chicken mite shit, pelican shit, gannet

shit (wholesome guano), fly shit (periodic), cockatoo
shit, dog shit (past catalog or assimilation),
cricket shit, elk (high plains) shit, and

tiny scribbled little shrew shit, whale shit (what
a sight, deep assumption), mandril shit (blazing
blast off), weasel shit (wiles’ waste), gazelle shit,

magpie shit (total protein), tiger shit (too acid
to contemplate), moral eel and manta ray shit, eerie
shark shit, earthworm shit (a soilure), crab shit,

wolf shit upon the germicidal ice, snake shit, giraffe
shit that accelerates, secretary bird shit, turtle
shit suspension invites, remora shit slightly in

advance of the shark shit, hornet shit (difficult to
assess), camel shit that slaps the ghastly dry
siliceous, frog shit, beetle shit, bat shit (the

marmoreal), contemptible cat shit, penguin shit,
hermit crab shit, prairie hen shit, cougar shit, eagle
shit (high totem stuff), buffalo shit (hardly less

lofty), otter shit, beaver shit (from the animal of
alluvial dreams)—a vast ordure is a broken down
cloaca—macaw shit, alligator shit (that floats the Nile

along), louse shit, macaque, koala, and coati shit,
antelope shit, chuck-will’s-widow shit, alpaca shit
(very high stuff), gooney bird shit, chigger shit, bull

shit (the classic), caribou shit, rasbora, python, and
razorbill shit, scorpion shit, man shit, laswing
fly larva shit, chipmunk shit, other-worldly wallaby

shit, gopher shit (or broke), platypus shit, aardvark
shit, spider shit, kangaroo and peccary shit, guanaco
shit, dolphin shit, aphid shit, baboon shit (that leopards

induce), albatross shit, red-headed woodpecker (nine
inches long) shit, tern shit, hedgehog shit, panda shit,
seahorse shit, and the shit of the wasteful gallinule.

Monday, October 03, 2005

from “The Ridge Farm” by A.R. Ammons

considering mutability and muck,
transforming compositions and
decompositions, ups and downs, comings
and goings, you have, sir, passed
from a thousand orifices, some
beneath you on the evolutionary
scale: visibly moved, the gentleman
got some roll-on ban deodorant
and tried to rub me off (or out):
shit sticks: its fragrance in the ld
days confirmed the caveman he was coming
home: a man’s shit (or tribe’s) reflects
(nasally) the physical makeup of the man
and the physiologies of those others
present, plus what they have gathered
from the environment
to pass through themselves

the odor of shit is like language,
an unmistakable assimilation of a
use, tone, flavor, accent hard to
fake: enemy shit smells like the enemy:
everything is more nearly incredible
than you thought at first

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Call For Shit Poetry

I’m looking for poems whose subject is shit, that deal directly with shit, or whose driving metaphor is shit or shitting. But I it has to be the whole poem—not just a mention of shit here or there or just using the word. The whole poem. Many famous poets have written shit poems, so don’t be ashamed if you too have mused upon the subject. The list I’ve assembled so far reads like this:

“Shit List” – A.R. Ammons
“The Snake” – Charles Bukowski
“Ode on the Commode” – Jack Butler
“Excrement” – Allen Ginsberg
“On the Rectum of Peacocks” – Gabriel Gudding
“Shit: An Essay on Rimbaud” – Thom Gunn
“The Soul of Spain with McAlmon and Bird the Publishers”
– Ernest Hemingway
“An Epiphany” – X.J. Kennedy
“Holy Shit” – Galway Kinnell
“The Excrement Poem” – Maxine Kumin
“Feces” – J.D. McClatchy
“Yam” – James Merrill
“I Get a Feeling” – Liam Rector
“The Dung Pile” – Peter Streckfus
“The Beautiful Bowel Movement” – John Updike

Ginsberg has quite a few poems about shit, but I’m trying to limit this unofficial “anthology” to one poem per poet. (Indeed, much like every other poem I wrote in high school included indigo, every other poem A.G. writes mentions his or someone else’s asshole.)

Gabe Gudding too has rhapsodized eloquently on butts and farts and so forth in his excellent A Defense of Poetry. That collection is another big influence not only in my own work but in this search for shit poetry.

I was going to add a caveat that I’m not looking for any literal toilet humor, but thought twice. Such verses are a big part of scatological literature and to exclude them would be careless. “Beans, Beans, the musical fruit” and “Here I sit broken-hearted” are some of the earliest poetic memories many of us have.

So if you know of more examples of famous poets’ forays into the subject, please send them along. Whether it be a whole poem or part, or even passages from critical works. John Berger has written on the subject and someplace far back I remember Eliot comparing the act of writing a poem to shitting.

Also send along original work. Depending on the response, I may or may not post the poems on this blog, if the poets consent.

This is mostly for my own amusement and education, and as a resource for others. I doubt any actual anthology will be published. What publishing house would want to back an anthology of shit poety? Though, you’ve got to admit, if you were browsing through the POETRY section and saw a book devoted entirely to poems about shit, you’d at least take it off the shelf and take a look.