Wednesday, October 19, 2011

a few poems from Russell Edson's The Tunnel

Counting Sheep

   A scientist has a test tube full of sheep. He wonders if he should try to shrink a pasture for them.
   They are like grains of rice.
   He wonders if it is possible to shrink something out of existence.
   He wonders if the sheep are aware of their tininess, if they have any sense of scale. Perhaps they think the test tube is a glass barn ...
   He wonders what he should do with them; they certainly have less meat and wool than ordinary sheep. Has he reduced their commercial value?
   He wonders if they could be used as a substitute for rice, a sort of woolly rice . . .
   He wonders if he shouldn't rub them into a red paste between his fingers. 

   He wonders if they are breeding, or if any of them have died.
   He puts them under a microscope, and falls asleep counting them.   

The Fall

   There was a man who found two leaves and came indoors holding them out saying to his parents that he was a tree.

   To which they said go into the yard and do not grow in the living-room as your roots may ruin the carpet.

  He said I was fooling I am not a tree and he dropped his leaves.

   But his parents said look it is fall.


   You haven't finished your ape, said mother to father, who had monkey hair and blood on his whiskers.
   I've had enough monkey, cried father.
   You didn't eat the hands, and I went to all the trouble to make onion rings for its fingers, said mother.
   I'll just nibble on its forehead, and then I've had enough, said father.
   I stuffed its nose with garlic, just like you like it, said mother.

   Why don't you have the butcher cut these apes up?  You lay the whole thing on the table every night; the same fractured skull, the same singed fur, like someone who died horribly.  These aren't dinners, these are post-mortem dissections.

   Try a piece of its gum, I've stuffed its mouth with bread, said mother.
   Ugh, it looks like a mouth full of vomit.  How can I bit into its cheek with bread spilling out of its mouth? cried father.
   Break one of the ears off, they're so crispy, said mother.

   I wish to hell you'd put underpants on these apes; even a jockstrap, screamed father.
   Father, how dare you insinuate that I see the ape as anything more than simple meat, screamed mother.
   Well, what's with this ribbon tied in a bow on its privates? screamed father.

   Are you saying that I am in love with this vicious creature?  that I would submit my female opening to this brute?  That after we had love on the kitchen floor I would put him in the oven, after breaking his head with a frying pan; and then serve him to my husband, that my husband might eat the evidence of my infidelity ...?

I'm just saying that I'm damn sick of ape every night, cried father.

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