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7/12/11

a million billion trillion stars

I'm stuck in an airport for 5 hours. It is time for some poems.

a man who had fallen among thieves, e.e. cummings


a man who had fallen among thieves
lay by the roadside on his back
dressed in fifteenthrate ideas
wearing a round jeer for a hat

fate per a somewhat more than less
emancipated evening
had in return for consciousness
endowed him with a changeless grin

whereon a dozen staunch and Meal
citizens did graze at pause
then fired by hypercivic zeal
sought newer pastures or because

swaddled with a frozen brook
of pinkest vomit out of eyes
which noticed nobody he looked
as if he did not care to rise

one hand did nothing on the vest
its wideflung friend clenched weakly dirt
while the mute trouserfly confessed
a button solemnly inert.

Brushing from whom the stiffened puke
i put him all into my arms
and staggered banged with terror through
a million billion trillion stars


I memorized a this poem once, at a time where I felt certain my life would consist of nothing but staggering and banging through existence, filled with terror. I found it comforting that if this were true, I at least would do it through the stars. I also really loved the unbuttoned button, personified and "solemnly inert." I've never buttoned an article of clothing the same way after this poem.

I also love the twist on the good Samaritan story. Most of us would help an innocent victim on the side of the road, but it is harder to help the drunk man covered in puke, pink vomit oozing from his eyes.

There have been a great many self-inflicted drunks in my life, and I haven't always chosen to pick them up and carry them through the stars. It is overwhelming, sometimes, to think of having to treat people kindly, not just through a million stars, but through a million billion trillion stars.
And because it is a literary Sophie's Choice to talk about only one e.e. cummings poem, here's another:

a total stranger one black day

a total stranger one black day
knocked living the hell out of me--

who found forgiveness hard because
my(as it happened)self he was

-but now that fiend and i are such
immortal friends the other's each


I like the jumbled words, a result of having "knocked living the hell out of me--" Eventually though, we forgive ourselves, our immortal friend. Despite the fact that our more rational selves, a total stranger on our blackest days, sometimes knock living the hell out of us.

11 comments:

geoffsn said...

One of the more powerful moments on my mission was when my companion and I found a 60+ year old drunk man who was so wasted he couldn't stand up. He wanted to get to his apartment which was on the 3rd floor (no elevator.) So we each grabbed a side and helped the old drunk up the stairs and onto his bed in his apartment. I'll never forget the tearful gratitude he kept slurring as we carried him. As he cried, these verses came to mind and I felt deeply that Jesus was the old drunk man who couldn't walk to his apartment that day.

Karen Ella said...

Oh man! I can't post on the Cupcakes post anymore (too late I guess), so, I'm badgering this one...
I'm one of the newbies to your blog, but you had me at "unfortunately, not endangered." Ignore the crazies. They come and go. Fans don't. So, from one awesomely verbal LDS woman to another, keep it comin, honey. We love it.

UK Yankee said...

Beautiful! Thank you, Stephanie!

rossandconnierockon! said...

You are really great. And so thoughtful. You remind me of one of my forever favorite professors . . . writing out loud.

ChristyLove said...

Honestly poetry's hard for me. I get all caught up in reading in rythym and miss the point. So thank you for elaborating. =)

Marci Crane said...

Hey, on your "Cupcakes Are Racist" post I liked your use of the word "threadjack."

What does it mean?

Sorry....tangent.

Stephanie said...

I shall let Urban Dictionary answer this question:


Threadjack: To take over the content of a message thread by changing the subject of discourse to a topic outside the purview of the original subject and/orforum, while maintaining the subject line.
A form of amusement for trolls.

Threadjacking is distinguished from flaming, as flames are a quasi-personal attack on a poster or on a poster's style of discourse, where threadjacking is deliberatly steering the discussion offtopic.


Sometimes, people manage to both threadjack and flame at the simultaneously.

Kristen Cawley said...

This was a nice follow-up post to the cupcakes post. Isn't free-agency a lovely thing? Isn't it nice I can make a choice for myself and afford others the right to make a different choice?

I no longer allow myself to send home parent surveys to my students' families because I ruminate over the 1 survey in 25 that marks me down. 1 comment out of 100? Perfect validation would just go to our heads.

Natalie | The Bobby Pin said...

The crusted vomit got me a little -- but friendship is truly dirty and those who are willing to wrestle the pig with us (to borrow from your previous post) are worth getting dirty with.

Now, for being nice to strangers and the self-inflicted drunks, that is something that I need to work on... thanks for the reminder.

Frontinus said...

Thanks for posting this - a wonderful poem. But a couple of small comments: (1) the text is actually "staunch and leal citizens" (not "staunch and Meal citizens"; and (2) (re your remarks below) - the vomit isn't coming out of his eyes; the phrase "out of eyes" doesn't go with the vomit, but "out of eyes which noticed nobody he looked..."

Frontinus said...

Thanks for posting this - a wonderful poem. But a couple of small comments: (1) the text is actually "staunch and leal citizens" (not "staunch and Meal citizens"; and (2) (re your remarks below) - the vomit isn't coming out of his eyes; the phrase "out of eyes" doesn't go with the vomit, but "out of eyes which noticed nobody he looked..."