Passion, Apathy, Truth, Lies, and Christopher Smart

Diana Hamilton

A continuation of Violet Spurlock and Diana Hamilton's conversational sonnets:



Passion comes in sad flavors too
Extreme receptivity is a choiceless cross, time-traveling meddlers keep telling you to
keep up the chase
I oxygenate my blood with the appropriate level of passion, very little reaching required
Passion is a dark fluid invulnerable to searching
A spoonful weighs a ton
If lack is ever swelling, it replaces itself
A smiling stump
As simple as something you do not want to do
Conjuring drama like an oasis
Passion is most potent and useless on resumés
Where what’s weakly enforced requires little energy, but overapplies that limit as well
Spiritual drought excusing the desert of cash
I love when people pay attention
It sharpens love like a blade



Do you remember, in Zardoz, when the Apathetics, previously stripped of
all desire by the dull consistency of their immortality, collectively
remember sex at the sight of Sean Connery, in a speedo, strapped with
One of them licks a bead of sweat from his back, the act I imagine
endocrinologists have in mind when they warn against letting others
come into contact with the application site of Astrogel
My zipper and my heart were closed
Spoonful-of-sugar-resistant depression
If I’d known the time of my death, I might have issued
Fewer no-thank-yous to girls who want kisses at the subway’s entrance
My apical meristems were slow growing
Bored, even, by the sight of a Bactrian camel
The ideal candidate is indifferent to the grievability of their job description
A collective study of the sensitivity of the nipple-areola complex
Make me an angel
That flies from the unconvincing coolness of my peers
On an hour’s walk, I might notice little but the pumice stone of
commercial real estate
But by the end of an Oz allegory, I’ll play Dorothy



It turned out the city with a mountain in its name
Had a mountain in its center
Yet language was everywhere
Blue safety, highly variable bads
“There’s still plenty of time,” said the world all at once
But Clarice could not believe, or rather she knew the assertion cloaked an anxiety which
she deemed realer than fact
Let this parable split truth into a fractal set of preferences
Truth is all about setting or letting, depending upon your local empire
Like all repetitive banging, against whatever walls, it invites imaginative forgiveness
To define by example, the truth is that I am frequently incensed by the habits of others
and at least equally astounded by their undeniable beauty
Green flood follows, tamped by stretched croissant, and if truth is avoiding me, I cannot
be accused of being deliberately obscure
Of course truth is a set of strings above a puppet world, and the ragged artist is out to
Truth hollows out a thing, then makes a game of the resulting echoes
It’s why text around sex is more sex than sex itself



The New city’s already gotten old
The Saints and Sans can’t settle on a god
When one place tells a truth, that’s no excuse for spontaneous credulity
I believe in a big house, at least ten rooms, where five of us will live
“There would have been communal life,” said the saddest friend,
But the building where the future would have happened just burned down, in the intrusive
thoughts of another hypothetical roommate, so the search continues
Dishonesty holds it all together, honestly
Lies are no collective noun, no crumbling at the first sign of heterogeneity
Like no prayers, towards no specific serenity, they set no moral premise
I’ve saved a few for you: I make no judgment, I hold no grudge, I do nothing
unthinkingly, I did not spoil my dinner
There’s a city where the waters never rise but thirst is quenched, and if this isn’t a lie, I
don’t know if we deserve to inhabit it
You ought to know better, when playing cat’s cradle, than to let your hands go slack
To build my ladder, I didn’t pull a string from your security blanket, leading to its
eventual unraveling
Later, you’ll know what it means to be swaddled



How would human culture change if keeping [insert animals of your choice] as pets was
as common as keeping cats or dogs?


But Christopher Was Smart

I want to say not much would change if “we” kept moths or eels—
we haven’t learned from dogs, except to beat—but I’d deny
how much a cat might help, if we could “train” our feline selves
to bite when hit, to piss until we’re pet, to shred the couch
demanding our own trees. As animals, we overlook
what’s found but wasn’t sought; we guard our personalities.
For human change we’ll need non-human goals, a shifting light.
A polar bear is pacing round the foyer in the dark:
we wouldn’t forge the entryway from ice, but ask the bear
to tolerate our wood or rug or tile. We don’t adapt.
Should arthropods cohabitate with men, we’d keep our feet
in stomping range of friends. The capybara’s not a god,
or we’d obey its modeling of chill, defy the Lord
whose violence extends to self-same lambs, and take a bath.


Response to ‘But Christopher Was Smart’

Real limits bristle when a bird goes the wrong way, because
who knows who may try to follow it? She was angry, sure
it was just for care to follow cuteness, since it simply did.
Ignored creatures prefer to hide, their nooks do not beckon
but propose mutual withdrawal. I keep my cockroaches
unthinkingly. They feed on my carelessness. A low drain
leaves room for love’s counter. If a porcupine nuzzled up
against the fleshy weakness of its would-be parent, the poke
might signal a warning, absent any intention. Quills
communicate what’s normally said in silent attempts
at flight that morosely dwell on attraction as function
of gravity. Planets complex as the laws that simplify them.
We like that fish live in a little room within our room.
We too shy from whatever regulates our environment.

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