September 16, 2007

When I wrote Human the Death Dance last year
there was a root idea which was eventually abandoned as the piece became what it became.
Most of the seed thoughts never made it into the poem.

Here’s what the original idea looked like in my head:

For my father

If you really want this to be your last day on Earth
on purpose
and there will be children
who are yours
and you will be leaving them
before you go and
take away Mother Nature’s chance
to translate you properly
listen –

Right now
with no doubts
head out
hire hard working
lovers of life
who really need the money.
They may be difficult to find
but they are worth it.
Pay them well.

They will build you the world’s largest neon sign
somewhere around the size
of a souped-up, sideways
40-story waterslide. Please,
if you don’t have the money
steal it
from someone who kills people with it.
If you get busted
fuck it
it’s not like you had better plans.

When the neon sign is finished
don’t tell anyone what you are doing.
You do not need to leave a note.

The hard working lovers of life
will hang your sign from the deepest edge
of the Grandest Canyon
where you will wait until dawn
for stillness
and the low

Now, duck back into that.
There’ll be a rocket pack.
Pick it up.
Strap it on.
Dry your eyes.
Feel around on the ground
for the metal, beaded pull string
leading to the neon sign.

Hold it in your hand.
Say a thank you
to anything,
then run,
fast as you can
for the gravity.

Don’t think
just jump
and outward.

flip the switch to the booster pack,
pull the string
to light the sign,
open wide
your open eyes
and hang on tight to the lifting
because you will shoot up and outward
as the neon writes its light through the night
in cursive tubes of waterslides
hung high and tight on the canyon side says,


There’ll be a fiery blast
in the eyes of the workers watching.

There’ll be dust spreading out
like a helicopter castle, when it’s landing.
Only, you’re leaving.

There’ll be your children below
in awe of you, waiting, and wondering,
what are you doing?

And there’ll be one last thing: the parachute,
take it.

‘Cause I’ve got a mountain of battle scars in a meat wagon
I been haulin’ around like a memory
healing my rough edges in the holy pull of gravity
comin’ from a neon runway back to Earth
willing to bet that if you’ll just cool your jets
long enough to drop the rocket act
maybe you’ll feel the glory in why everything keeps
pulling on you relentless, towing you all the way back home.
It wants you to stay.

So power off.
Fall into it.
Fall any way you want to,
but ya gotta tug the ripcord firm from your chest
if you’re ever gonna keep from dyin’.
The saving of yourself
and the way those straps will jam your nuts
straight up into your hollow parts
is jarring.

Look around on the way back down.
You’re not the only piece of patchwork
birds can pull worms from.

If I were the man in the moon
and my eyes were a little better
I’d just barely be able to sound out the words
stretched across the top of your parachute
written by the lovers of life
who are very good with signs like,