I brought you a book, said Pablo. A book? said Blurtso. Yes, said Pablo, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Oh boy! said Blurtso. A Cookbook!
These are the longest recipes I’ve ever seen!
“Blurtso sings the donkey electric”
I sing the donkey electric!
A song of asses I sing, near and far!
Asses on hills, asses in fields, asses in herds,
more bountiful than the once-bountiful buffalo,
asses on land and asses at sea, asses short, skinny, fat and tall!
Multitudes of asses, spanning these star-spangled states!
I have perceived that to be an ass
is to be enough.
The ears of the ass are sacred, delicate,
twitching receptacles of sound,
assiduous antennae registering, recording all,
the hooves of the ass are no less
than the slippers of sultans
striding silken alfombras and seraglio stone,
the snout of the ass and his nostrils—a dual lamp
of Aladdin—inhaling flowery fragrance,
leading to wished-for fiestas of pumpkin pleasure,
the ass’s tail, though stumpy or small, and swatting flies,
is a palm fanning reclining Cleopatra,
his teeth, precious jade, are greened and polished
by the grass of a thousand fields,
his attentive eyes and friendly balance of features,
—courtly countenance and caryatid composure—
no less perfect than the visage of Helen.
Such asses I see, to the north and to the south!
From blistering bivouacs of winter
to blazing battalions of summer,
Patagonia to Peloponnese, Malibu to Manhattan,
Concord to Cambridge, every here
and every there, asses I see! Brown, grey,
yellow, red, purple, orange, azure asses!
Asses in other climes, asses in other times,
French, British, Australian, Arabian, Asian asses!
Eating every blade of grass, an ass!
Trampling every leaf that falls, a hoof!
Wading every stream that sings,
a snout, a snort, and a bray!
Hee-haw goes the jack!
Hee-haw goes the jenny!
Hee-haw go the judge and jury and judged!
Hee-haw from the dell! Hee-haw from the glen!
Hee-haw at mid-day! Hee-haw at the moon!
I see the resigned ass, bearing a load,
obeying the coax of his lord,
I see the boisterous ass braying,
in the barn, his bonny bray,
I see the amorous ass (of these there are many),
expressing exigencies by day and by night,
I see farms, fields, freeways and burgs,
each in their way, replete with asininities,
I see the asinine politician, professor, and poet,
each one leaving a brand on the asses of asses.
And the asses of yore, you ask, where are they
with their clip and clop on the stones of the street?
Les ânes voici! I say! Les ânes voici!
Heeding the whinny and neigh,
and ass-bray of the future!
What song do I sing? (you ask and I reply),
I sing the song of asses!
Certain, and stoic, and strong!
From each face an ass!
From each office, family, and farm!
Asses I sing! Avalanches of asses!
I sing! I sing a song of asses!
I sing the donkey electric!
The world was still new,
uncertain shapes and sounds,
you heard your name.
“Lizzy” could have been an apple,
or a butterfly, or a sunset in spring,
but its syllables
became a seed,
the sprout of your center.
Little by little
you grew comfortable
with the sound and the colors
in your name,
its wings sailed
from voice to voice,
the houses and streets and trees,
making its way
to the peak of a dream.
At the first competition
it seemed the chilly name of another.
It was not yet you,
its essence was untested,
so you went seeking,
searching in weary mirrors,
in questioning shadows,
until you found
its true voice singing
in the slow light of dedication.
It was then it lingered,
and stopped a Blurtso that passed,
thinking it was the echo of an apple,
or a butterfly, or spring.
What’s that you’ve been writing? said Alex. It’s a collection of poems, said Blurtso. A collection? said Alex. Yes, said Blurtso, for Lizzy. I’m calling it, Graham Cracker Crumbs. Why? said Alex. Because when I see her pass, said Blurtso, and then she’s gone, I feel as empty as an empty pie tin. Oh, said Alex, and the poems are the crumbs that remain? Yes, said Blurtso, the remnants of my lost rapture. Can I hear one? said Alex. Sure, said Blurtso, this is about the time I saw her limping across campus. I call it, “O my love limps so!”
“O my love limps so!
“The birds were sweetly chirping
and the grass was growing green,
as I waited on my bench
for the jenny of my dreams.
While the shadows slowly passed,
not a vision did I spy,
‘til suddenly across the grass,
a limping caught my eye.
My love is sorely stricken,
she’s suff’ring and distressed!
Her left rear hoof is lagging,
is lagging behind the rest!
Oh lovely injured unguis!
Oh tender cloven pes!
Of late so sweet enticing,
now dragging on the grass.
Oh ass! Oh hoof! Oh ankle
so twisted and exposed!
The pain that’s in your heel
pricks the loving heart that knows!
That’s very good, said Alex, but what’s an “unguis”? “Unguis,” said Blurtso, is the Latin word for hoof. What about “pes”? said Alex. “Pes” is the Latin word for foot. Oh, said Alex, I guess Latin’s not very poetic. No, said Blurtso, I guess not.