Jules Gibbs

Abosorption (Other)

The tree was not exactly weeping, but it was purging

something from deep inside, a pang that seeped

a sappy sickness thick with the fibrous bilge

of pre-history, its leaves like downward daggers, tangs

of urge mad at the whole earth but sympathetic

with the universe, marching to a dirge

of a thousand tiny wet feet tapping. Tap-tap

the branches descended, came down to the doors,

pawed at the windows. I was just saying anyone who dedicates

a book to that woman is on my shit list, yadda-yadda,

my usual troubled themes — a house full

of thieves and my disadvantaged youth nibbling

at my ankles, my bad knee, but you were swooning

out the window or at the fly tapping the screen,

remembering someone — I don’t know who, but I know

longing when I see it. The branches of the walnut descended

another inch with a grunt, then two more, hovered and honed

in, looked —yes the leaves began peering in the windows,

eyes like jade prongs, armed and operatic, tricky

as neutrinos. We both felt arrested by the hue

it cast into the room and by something else, too,

something courageous and inside and completely made-up.

Affairs are contagious, I said, and you looked sad

and I remembered the two young poets who sat on our

two red couches and wouldn’t look at the TV because

it polluted their memes. They jawed, opined. Tapped

their wooden heels on the wooden floor—dactyls

and spondees and I would have call them kibitzers

except Yiddish flew over their heads like a soul

afflicted, like an ill tree, like the rain. Their memes

were pure as Nazis. They wanted to chant and be taken

seriously. Seriously? Their pre-Christian arrogance could not

be exorcised — more talented exorcists had already tried. 

I wanted less T.S. Eliot and more insight into March

Madness, less papyrus and more reckless shmaltz of American

Idol. (The worse they sang, the harder I cried.) They leaned

in to hear my thoughts on syllabic collision in German

translation, and took them without permission. I made

an empty threat. I wanted to return to the good old

badness of the off-key, the burn of surprise, regret of poor

pedigree in analog transmission. I wanted baldness.

Outside art by outsider artists. I had an idea about

three colors. I told it to you and you took it. The tree

was all around us, sallow, ruddy, olive, an intellect

without character. Overeducated, but not in the ways

of love. In need of good parenting. Sorry for its own

nature, but being what it had to be anyway, getting more

intimate with its illness, knocking at the door — Tap-tap

and I did what was in my nature to do, ward of the earth

and private man that I am, I opened the door to the tremor

at the threshold, recognized it for its high IQ, its shiver

and cold sweat, saw it for its threat and its canard

and invited it inward.




“Absorption (Other)” first appeared in Gulf Coast, Winter/Spring 2011 Vol. 23, Issue 1.