Martin Rock

Under the dark-blue cloud with a glint of the red horse
I dimly recognize all that has been.
—Czeslaw Milosz


In the beginning there was a dingbat
who cut the durian sky in half.
The beginning stunk like corpsefoot.
The beginning was a foolish place to start.
There were also 54 leopards
split down the middle
and splayed wet over the cooling earth.
Memory of early ground
drove them to live in trees.
The pressure of having bodies
was enough to melt the iron
in everyone's chest.
Cats invented wings for birds,
pitying their skinny legs.
There are still enough of them on earth
to make a gumbo of beginnings.



We are not at war anymore.
Nothing reeks.
There are no timeshares left to claim;
we offered the enemy
enough tulips to block the sun.
Tulips flocked into blossom,
tulips ground into powder,
tulips growing in the bellies of the desert.
There is enough sand
to fill factories. Imagine the pearls!
Imagine dust in everyone's chest,
and around each fleck, a lump
of milky sap. The ground
is still burning; the sand is black glass,
black milk for the children
of women, inseminated
by the black fire of beginnings.



The first tree produced tomatoes
larger than hedgehogs.
When they fell, Serpent crawled inside
to lay her eggs. When they fell,
Man crawled inside to look for Woman.
The eggs were soft as flesh.
Man slept. Woman gathered the tomatoes
and threw them in a pot.
Man was inside. Serpent was inside.
Tormented by the boil,
serpent crawled between Man's
legs and buried herself to the stomach.
Man spends his life trying to pull
Serpent from between his legs.
For this, Man is given hands.



The first child grew from a pit.
Genesis Weekly printed Thursday.
countered The Daily Bang.
Pity they didn't send poets to the moon.
There are lunar surfaces
that look like flounders from earth.
Plato didn't want poets in his republic,
not because we imitate truth,
but because we are most susceptible
to daemonic influence. Milosz's
invisible guest comes in and out at will.
Hire a poet, end up with a golem.
The only place we ever end up
is the beginning. The only place
we ever end up is the beginning.







This poem came from a game I've been playing with my friend Traci Brimhall in which we exchange new prompts and poems for ten consecutive days. This prompt was: "Write a long poem in sections about the beginning of the world. Include an epigraph by a foreign writer. Use the words; tomato, lunar, pit, hedgehog, flounder, and dingbat."