instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Light From a Bullet Hole: New and Selected Poems

Poem from Light From a Bullet Hole: Poems New and Selected

In the Children's Museum in Nashville

In the Children's Museum in Nashville, rattlesnakes coil,
protected by glass and by placards warning that if teased
they might just dash their brains against apparent air.
Negroes are advised that, if notified in advance,
the Children's Museum in Nashville will take care of them
on certain days. On an uncertain day, to regulate
my sons by Mother Nature's whims, I make it quite clear
that some skulls are less substantial than apparent air,
as, evidently, one empty cage verifies.
More durable are the heads of bison, eland
(from Africa), and other exhibits: a purple parrot,
who eventually condescends to demonstrate
by winking that, far from dead, he of his own free will
dreams over caged snakes in his own cage; blades
from China's dynasties and Malayan tribes;
some shrunken Jivaro noggins and a diminished Nashville;
and, most awesome, a bird and a squirrel
reborn at intervals from blacked-out flesh as white
skeletons. On Sundays, children are allowed a look
at electric stars. Seen every day is an Indian
child-cured by chance, the signs say
in a dry, airless place--still possessed
of parchment skin, thought eyeless, and still dressed
in ceremonial regalia
that celebrates his remove to a better world.