I let down my long line; it went falling; I pulled; up came
A bucket of bad sleep in which tongues were sloshing about
Like frogs and dark fish, breaking the surface of silence, the
Forgetfulness, with what would have been brightness in any
Other element, flash of wave, residual bubbling,
But were here belches of shadow churned up by the jostling
Tongues from the imageless thick bottom of the heavy pail.
I could not reach into that fell stuff after them, nor fling
Them back into night like inadequate fish; nor would they
Lie flat and silent like sogged leaves that had been flung under
Mud; but burbled of language too heavy to be borne, of
Drowned inflections and smashed predications, exactness pulped
Into an ooze of the mere desire to utter. It was
My bucket, and I have had to continue to listen.


Here is the philosopher and here is the banana.
Can the fat, yellow finger unable to grasp a hand
That plucks it, let alone a point, consume such attention?
The philosopher can eat the banana but the meal
Would be devoid of significance: not for bananas
Being the comical fruit (whoever peels one becomes
A monkey momentarily; and how could our old Loss
Of Perfection and our just recompense of What There Is
Have depended upon the imperatives of such a
Funny bunch, hanging accessibly above our first heads?)
Here they are. One will rot without wondering,
“Is a horse slipping on a banana peel not funny?”
Without regarding, in the shadow of the banana,
The fruit of the joke. Time is the ape of the absolute.

This Issue

August 5, 1976