Yet all that summer it was boys against girls
when the giant girls and boys were fighting,
where past was prologue, and all bore down
on one another in the radiance of flooded land
where the mezzo-soprano sang the dizzy aria.
Did the “gender binary” ripen with you inside it,
curled like a lima bean, surrounded by giants?
This was the school where we learned the sweet science.
We had opened the door into summer, and passed back through
into winter where the taskmistress greets us. We were once
common men, we were all common men, but now
we are common no longer. I was a student there too,
pupil and pugilist, on Rush Street, the Mecca of clip joints,
along strip malls, and sunrise, and strip joints.
This was the fanfare. This was the fanfare
for the common man. For the common man
grew unruly in the dark arena, cauliflowers growing
in place of each ear, crumpled yams in place
of the lips, the face a tuberose, the head a mandrake,
until you were left to sleep beneath the bamboo
and octagonal windows, a dwarf in the fistic
landscape. And the common woman grew
into a womanhood towering over the Earth,
where the great bell was tolling. It said
“You may see yourself as a wolf or a bear
or some other kind of changeling flummoxed
in a cold blur brought on by changes. And are you
a Trojan, Attic, tasked with living
in the flesh’s bulk whose demands are unforgiving?”
This was the year of our misgivings.
Geoffrey Nutter is the author of the poetry collections Christopher Sunset, Water’s Leaves & Other Poems, The Rose of January, and most recently Giant Moth Perishes, among others. He runs the Wallson Glass Poetry Seminars in New York City, where he lives with his family.
READ NEXT IN TURNING POINTS AND REVOLUTION:
GEOFFREY NUTTER, “THE ACTUARIAL FALLACY“