Enjoy Being Human

Marie Landau



In the beginning there were a thousand unseen parts scratching to be stitched together. Amoebas reached from the mud of our common nightmare—our ceaseless togetherness. Country sung in some disharmony. A heartland wants a west for its movies, an east a south for its gold–throated singers—which south wants to retread Sherman’s march to the sea and unlight every burning field, sweep together every flake of ash left in the charred plantations’ wake. We all have histories to unwrite. But we claw and in such ragged gestures bind ourselves in blood. And from such primordial spill a monster crawls, replicating itself in every grievance that won’t be muted by a million clanking anchors. Such bright sounds that make our myths, stoke our smoking fields—such bright sounds our hunger–growling monster needs to live.


if a monster
is an amalgam
of parts

if it is all errant
and aberrant

sung in some

if it is an image
from a nightmare
some perfect

grotesquery if
grotesquery is a gross

amplification of all
our meanest assets

if it is a perfect storm
of things that shouldn’t
go together

distended belly slipping
over thin legs
winnowing to a point

thick fingers grasping
at a flap of skin
threatened by a gust

of wind

swamp-slippery eyes
sunk into a face that
would swallow them whole

if its lips crease
to an ominous point
forking tents

of flesh

a color
bright beyond
all god’s intentions

for flesh


if there was a god
who could intend
such things

if god could join
the mind and brain
so they would not war

would not tell the hand
to stick the point
into the eye

that trembles

if the left hand
always knew
what the right hand was

reaching for

the conglomeration
of all such parts
that only fit together

in not fitting

in such disfigurement—
a bundle of sticks blown
together by the north–south


snowmelt spelled
by a strong northward bulge
tropic and arctic air

splitting into branches
and swinging back
with some strong latitude—

if we weathermen could blow
back what has been swept
into motion

all bluster
and sea rise
and tree fall


if a monster
is a house of wind
captured from each corner

of the earth

if its wooden mouth
makes a hearth as it
reaches for the heart

of a newborn boy
to paint lips
the color of fire

if monster’s breath is a flue
its red-blood throat
an ancient chimney


if a monster is made
of disjointed parts
can the hand of god

reach out
and pluck
the stitches

from its neck

take an axe to
its tinder–hot

can it sweep the air
from its windy–
rich lungs—

starve the baby–
blood embers
it wears for eyes


In the end there were only the shuffles of a thousand disconnected parts. An idea of god lay smoldering among the ashes, infinite finger flicking out flames leaping to lick the earth one last time. When we told the story of Jesus of Nazareth we told it all wrong. We left the blood to pool where it spilled, not telling how its red particles glowed like coals, crept into the tinderbox of our uncivilization. A structure that kept growing and growing, sucking up all our howling winds before they could change course. What weathermen were we. Who could have told such monstrosity, such burning sounds we thought we needed to live?

About Marie Landau

Contributor headshot, Marie Landau

Marie Landau is an editor at the University of New Mexico Press and a member of Dirt City Writers, an Albuquerque-based literary collective. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Daily Gramma, District Lit, scissors & spackle, Powder Keg, SOFTBLOW, and elsewhere. She can be found on the web at marielandau.com

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