TO SCRAMBLED EGGS
You would have been
roosters or hens
confined to a small cage
or running around
Feathers, spine, a beak,
eyes like mine
see night & day, stars, blue sky,
grains of soil & corn,
wire mesh, trucks,
collisions intentional & otherwise,
& of other chickens, hawks, ants,
woman’s hand or man’s,
voice like mine, too, appetite & thirst,
urge to move, to
nurture, maybe—or strut & crow.
would have been like me,
aspirations of smaller ambit,
less memory, less scheming,
letting what happens go, fatalistic.
you’re like the elders of my family
what they’d hoped for & attempted
stronger than their ability, finally, to cope
You’re like Abel, Akhenaten!
Alexander the Great, the
Spartacus, Crassus, Pompey!
Julius Caesar, Antony,
John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul!
Richard the Lionhearted, Wallace!
Hamza Malmati Maqtul,
Joan of Arc, Villon!
Moctezuma, Giordano Bruno, Anne
Charles I, James II, Louis XVI, Pugachev!
Tupac Amaru, Pontiac!
Mary Wollstonecraft, Marie Antoinette,
Alexander Hamilton, Shelley, Tecumseh!
Edgar Poe, Dred Scott, John Brown!
Lincoln, Maximilian of Mexico,
Sofya Perovskaya, Jim Fisk, Custer!
Crazy Horse, Rimbaud,
Muhammad Ahmed al-Mahdi, Dreyfus!
Gavrilo Princip, Kerensky, Sun Yatsen,
Kaiser Wilhelm, Czar Nicolai, Rosa Luxemburg!
Wilson, Debs, Sacco & Vanzetti!
Garvey, Lorca, Al Capone,
Bonhoeffer, Insull, Amelia Earhart,
Hitler, Farouk, Naguib, Mosaddeq!
Gary Powers, Jimmy Hoffa!
Medgar Evers! The Kennedys, Lee Oswald!
Monroe, Lenny Bruce! Che Guevara!
Malcolm X, Martin King, Salvador
Lyndon Johnson, John Lennon, Nixon!
The Gandhis! The
Bhuttos! Sadat, Rabin!
Marcos, Gorbachev, Yeltsin!
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi!
Zarqawi, Saddam Hussein!
The unknown salesman!
The unknown mother!
The unknown accountant!
The unknown husbandman!
The unknown tool-maker!
The unknown installer!
The unknown loan officer!
The unknown waitress!
The unknown insurance processor!
The unknown assistant!
The unknown ashamed of
The unknown without the price of
Victims of every war,
You’re like my neighbors, generation,
you’re like me.
Oh, some of us live
emerge from egg or womb,
delight in early impressions
in our mastery of, say, walking, talking,
maybe our art-work
posted on a refrigerator
by encouraging parents or teachers,
be elected senators,
or accumulate billions of dollars,
of gold, barrels of oil,
or bands of resisters to invasions,
or take advantage of such conflicts
to trade at
committed, maybe, to some noble
maybe dropping to one side like carcasses
raccoons or squirrels along the road,
or mice in traps, or swatted
or persisting, overcoming
one obstacle after
seeing the big, then bigger picture—
around some yard.
Scrambled just the same—
each a kind of
opposed by not just another team
coming from the opposite
& dedicated to blocking our attempts to score—
opposed by, say, 40,000 teams
coming from all directions,
trying to score, & prevent our scoring—
most goals even of
than our goals,
few understanding what we’re
trying to achieve—
we so necessarily concentrating,
conceive their goals—
even our understanding of our own
often scrambled by the necessity
of dealing with
gravity, accidents, traditions,
dangerous inclinations to disrupt
others’ wise & foolish forays,
our competitors subsidized,
for & against,
speeches sincere & realistic
unrealistic, or cynical.
Addicted to products or
giant corporations provide—
prices & terms
barrage of sales & counter claims,
intimate or impersonal betrayals,
planned & unplanned obsolescence,
despair of those we care about,
our own griefs,
effects of hormones, viruses, age.
waves of change that began
a hundred, thousand, million years
or are just starting,
our efforts a zealous part,
against which we exert our efforts—
or which we don’t even
realize encompass us—
til all we’re trying to do is disrupted,
& we’re released:
& what we’ve
mixed with all that has become of us & it
great or slim yet inexorable effect—
oh, scrambled eggs.