THE PHANTOM LIMBS OF THE POETS*
David Musgrave has a phantom limb.
It is the bees and a jetty.
Craig Dworkin has a phantom limb
but he calls it a phantom shelf.
Puts everything on it.
There used to be a zine called Phantom Limb.
Is it still around? Anybody feeling it?
Nathaniel Mackey has a phantom limb.
It's the blues and objective reality.
Ben Lerner has a phantom limb.
It's the unavailability of the traditional lyric.
Lyn Hejinian has a phantom limb.
It's Deleuze and Guittari's bodies.
Jay Rosenblatt's phantom limb
is 28 mins b&w at the MoMA.
Johannes Göransson borrowed Aase Berg's
phantom limb and now it's contaminated.
Can you guess what Albert Goldbarth's
phantom limb is like?
Does anyone actually have a phantom limb?
The rest of you: draw your blood elsewhere.
* * *
CONVEYOR TO JAEL
Two a.m. here. The neighbors sleep.
How are you? How's Heber? Any wars?
I'm reading the Princeton Encyclopedia
of Poetry. Looking for disability poetics.
I know we're here somewhere.
I talk to several of us on the phone.
I find deep image and dolce stil nuovo
and ecopoetics. Don't worry. I'll find us.
The books anesthetized me long ago.
Broke my heart to read Leviticus:
"No one who has any defect may come."
Oh, the poems they write about us.
Way worse than Song of Deborah.
At least she called you "most blessed
of tent-dwelling women." So why
am I bothering you about it? I looked
for a disabled woman in the Torah.
None have names. Try addressing
someone without a name.
* * *
For years I thought at least
the poet took the time
to call me back. Must be
a good, yes, good man.
Calls his constituents.
"Hi Frank Bidart," I said.
I had to clear my throat.
"In one of your poems,
the speaker is an amputee
who has to pay for sex.
As an amputee myself,
I was wondering if you –"
He interrupted me to
berate me and the monologue
goes on and on
and I still hear it today.
The problem with his poem
is the problem with poetry.
I want your pain.
I'm taking it.