1948 / I Did This I Did That


Arthur Vogelsang



I just can't believe you think the camel likes the desert!
What. . . its special hooves?  It is enamored of them?
Its water storage faculty. . . it is so proud of that?
The movies you see of the camel smiling in the desert?!?!
As a child, a rabid thinker,
I thought the zoo was a collection of rare, no, unique animals; for
Instance, there were only three elephants in the world,
And these were them.  There were only two polar bears, these.
The one camel seemed most like me.
It liked the shade of its big flat cactus,
It liked its trough filled with a hose,
It liked a coconut chocolate bunny
I illegally offered through the bars,
Which it took carefully, of my hand.
It hated the desert, like we all do!


I Did This I Did That

I was reading The Accurate Los Angeles Times and weeping
And talking to my personal plants in the house
That were allowed to stay with me out of the sometimes furious wind
And disgusted by my own weeping I jumped up and hustled (trotted)
Outside and talked to my semi-wild plants a little to shake it off
Then came back and sat on the sofa, same spot, same page,
And wept horribly.  I had tried to join the plants, yes, be them,
Either tribe, Inside or Semi-Protected Outside.  It could’ve been the war,
It could’ve been a defenseless child or animal got sawed
At a joint or at an important isthmus like the neck.
It could’ve been the good, very good, lies like ochre lovely lava dust
In the newsprint paper fibers and ink
If you are allergic to lava and there is any lava dust
Around that drifts into your eyes out of every mouth of each who was
Interviewed.  Or cited in other words.  Plants, dear still purity, let me in,
I’m crying uncontrollably you dumb ingrates open your non
Eyes.  Even my walk at a shuffle-trot didn’t stop the wet hysteria.
And do you care why it was?  It could’ve been the Illegal
Immigrants who used to have a wild Rio Grande name who used to own the land
My sofa sat on whereon I wept and I could’ve
Wept at the latest load of them suffocated or luckily dehydrated
Into Kaiser Permanente.  I read that.  I read this, The Los
Angeles Times Book Review (it is upside down
And its mate the Opinion is upside down; they are upside down coupled
To each other like two paper bodies touching head to toe back to back).
It was about Jack Kerouac and experts poured shifty lava dust on him
In one strong, succinct paragraph each.  I loped over to the Jack book
And read it for fifty-five minutes.  The war continued during
This time, different Mexicans died tomorrow (past future tense because
Described tomorrow), a younger unattached child will have felt
Some rather sharp pain tonight (past future tense because described
Tomorrow), the brown lava dust was joined in the gusty wind by red
Lava dust, the plants said to me you’ve got to be kidding, get away from us,
So I called some vicious allies whose memorized numbers buzzed four times
(I called five people) and they all recited machine recitement.
With no guidance, I read on in the calm brave book that we hate,
Like we hate all bungled opportunities to live openly with others,
Or like we hate anyone who escapes us or escapes into us,
Or like we hate other species, hate, even the plants condescend to the humans.
Meanwhile call back if you want to help me infect the reports and opinions
And recombine the decay into the imagination.