THE MUNICIPAL SEX CODE OF THE NEW HAMMURABI
MY tutor told me as he was dying that I too would have to die.
And now here I am, a hundred years later, dying of wounded vanity.
“I leave the brutal honesty to the brutes”—that was my motto.
But now, I must admit, the saintly thing of it is quite faded.
If I play favorites with my holy books, I hope I may be forgiven. I’m
Lately immersed in the Sex Code of the New Hammurabi.
With pen uncapped, I’m turning the leaves of the Nouveau Hammurabi.
This law book hints at calumny like a heart “hints” at blood.
My footnote tells me the following verse is addressed to the “male self-pleasurer.”
It says: It’s no use in trying to rub out your reflection | from a piece of
And it says: El hacha ya está puesta | a la raíz de los árboles,
Y todo árbol que no produzca buen fruto is hewn down and cast into the fire.
It says you must kick the ball down the field and put it into the net. But having
Put the ball in the net, there’s no need | to let the air out of the ball!
My footnote says the meaning thére is you can fuck all you want but don’t come.
And that this is Rule Number One in the Church | of Latter-Day Sumerians.
And now I wanna close the book: I’m afraid of reading further! But then I
Light on a solemn passage that illuminates the whole. It says:
The withdrawing of imaginative sympathy requires little prompting,
For the default border of sympathy is the fringe of each human body.
To withdraw sympathy, therefore, is merely to whistle the animals home.
Yet, unless the animals take to the field, they atrophy and die.
In long-bearded tetrameters, Hammurabi has laid down the law. He says
Any ten objects in tandem are a jigsaw of the human body.
THE SUMMER OF 1976
AH, these Hellenic honeycomb clusters of different-colored sea-facing cubes!
Since this one was built on a rock wall, no two houses are on the same street.
There áre no streets: only terracotta stairs whose gracefully wrought swash railings
Hold banks of potted succulents in place at the edge of every step.
To gét anywhere you have to be prepared to go through each other’s houses. The only
Person allowed any privacy is whoever lives at the very top.
And would you play upon me? Would you seem to know my stops? There is
Much music in this little organ—yet cannot you make it speak.
I shall post a Greek in the boat. A freethinking philosophical Greek.
For, unique among pre-Socratics, this one respected the Barbarian mind.
He refused to think rings around people. He said intelligence is almost all myth. He
The shape and color of lightning to a track of thought through the human brain.
He disdained all keys and locks. He relegated all such
To the involutions of the labyrinth containing the Minotaur’s mighty opposite.
You know about that embarrassing opposite. Head of a man, body of a bull.
There’s one on the cover of this new translation of Also sprach Zarathustra.
But we must go back in time even further: to the summer of 1976,
When Dixie and Nestor had just put in | the pool in the back yard.
And now I see emerging from the much-agitated water
A dripping troop of children tanned the color of leather belts!
It is my tribe climbing out from a smoking hole on the side of Parnassus.
And there among them is the greatest living space poet, Ted Greenwald!
Ted Greenwald, Ted Greenwald! I send you this hymenopterous poem
From my apartment on the kangaroo side of a golden Australian penny.