Pyramids, bosoms, smallpox, how a featherbed is made,
a microbe influences a rocket, if a witch knows her drams
from her draughts. To know the intricacies of orogeny,
adulteries of the platypus. Undulating to work, local bar,
into bed and up again, plump facades that we are—
protoplasm all mussed up and erectus, anchor of havoc
breathing through a thin reed. After reading the whole
library still a loaf of liver and spleen, glandular pulse
of epidermis and osseous tissue, doesn’t have the good
sense to walk out on a spring day, co-mingle with millions
of asexual spores ejected from forest fungi, write a sonnet about
the flaming gills of the bullet tuna, lie prostrate on a slender
ridge that, a metamorphic age ago, bucked and buckled, folded
in and over itself—launch your hulking cerebral over the brink
into the lithosphere, swim of hydrosphere, past the mesosphere,
until every molecule, ionic bond, is illumed and you simply are.
Cut the paper straight through the middle
without thinking of whether it’s right or wrong,
or whether you need to do it for yourself
or for the past or who has died today
with a bullet, a bomb, in the birth canal.
Lay the paper flat; check the measurements,
sure to be in alignment. Mind the markings,
no curled edges, smudges, irregularities; bowed
and bent to the varnished table, flat and wide,
smooth and unforgiving. Don’t let the music stop
you, music out the window, on the street, of feet
and horns and clanging trucks moving through
the day, the night, through your dreams.
Don’t take a breath of air, of diesel and brown
leaves falling and sunset and the bay. Carry on
with your calculations. Carry the burden, set it
in the graveyard, on the rooftop, take it home
and give it to your wife, wire it to your bank,
burn it as an offering, an offering, an offering.
Burn it as an offering.
Hari Bhajan Khalsa’s poems have been published in Poet Lore, Comstock Review, Roanoke Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Gyroscope Review, Cathexis Northwest Press and Transcend, among others, and are forthcoming in Quiddity and The Potomac Review. She is the author of a chapbook, Life in Two Parts (Main Street Rag, 2010) and a book of poems, Talk of Snow (Walrus, 2015). She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, just waiting for the perfect dog to join the family.