From the first-edition jacket of The Crystal Lithium.
“The Dog Wants His Dinner,” a poem by James Schuyler, first appeared in our Winter 1972 issue; it’s part of his collection The Crystal Lithium. Schuyler was born on this day in 1923. He died in 1991.
for Clark Coolidge
The sky is pitiless. I begyour pardon? OK thenthe sky is pitted. The yardis sand and laced with rootsafloat on rock encasing fire.You think so do you. No.Yes. Don’t know. Check one.Forget all you ever knew.Sorry. Not my romance. Whatis? Sorry. We don’t takein trick questions. You mean?I do: put down that.Put that down too. Skiesof spit, seas where whalespiss and die to make a barof scented soap, uhm smellsgood. She came in like an ex-cited headline. The deerthey all were starving! Todeath, even, perhaps. Andeating people! What to dowith these disordered herdsof words? I said I wouldeat my words and do so, nowyou see. He eats them, allup. Greedily. Yesterday theair was squeaky clean todayit’s dull and lifeless as anaddict’s armpit. Surely youmean leafless. I have a fleabite, here, pink, of courseas an eye disease: the catwho brings me fleas dieslike a dog, sleepily, oran unwatered plant. Thatwas exciting wasn’t it. It’snot that I crave. Uh didyou say crave? Some wordsare briefly worse than others:get the Librium gun and pointit and the Kodak at that Kodiak.You see? No hope. So don’thope. Hop, skip, jump orlie down. Feed your face.Now feed the dog. He ate his.He is eating the cat whoobjects. Fix the fire. Putout the light. An ice coldhand slides in the windowto touch your uncovered headforehead cheeks lips lobesand all with worlds of firechilled by distance. O night.Bedclothes loosen. Unseen twigserect themselves in air. Youasleep too, O magic root.
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