Thursday, December 9, 2010

Specific Gravity

Specific Gravity

curious bird
the yellow-billed Oxpecker
precariously saddling
the immense back
of the ill-tempered Hippo

she spends most of her life there
hardly a pretty bird
unable to warble when she
finally does fly

dependent on the mighty Hippo
all the sustenance its body yields

picking at old wounds
picking at the parasites
and fat auburn ticks
that look oddly Roman

the Hippo serves a purpose
and some forget
that he is widely regarded
as one of land’s most dangerous mammals
especially when one foolishly attempts
a surprise attack

the Hippo can outrun any
praying human, predator, or parasite
without breaking a blood sweat

so count your little blessings
when he tastefully decides
to stop and settle for a midday
graze in the lush grass
as to avoid indigestion

constructive aggression

the yellow-billed Oxpecker
supposedly serves a purpose too,
but her beak is dull
and often untrue in its
myopic aim

she short eyes the prize
she picks at a wound
and poisons only herself
she dies and no one notices
not the Hippo, or even the wound,
for she too was a parasite

the parasite serves no purpose
a profoundly meaningless existence
the only significant act of its life
is leaving it
its only form of expression is sucking
for without the sucking
it is already dead
it depends on a host
for life, shape, and uneasy,
insincere validation

the Hippo hardly even notices
any of this
he soulfully yawns
and when he does
you are reminded
of a cobra striking
as it pauses actual air
then pushes it again

as he moves on
toward the cool rivers
he often dreams of

huge heart too light
to be a burden
too alive
to be a legend

hardly holy
for that is an empty word
only a self-righteous human
would ascribe to a being

he knows of much
better uses for mud

even when it dumbly
spells itself backwards
if only for self-definition –

--William Crawford's first book, Fire in the Marrow, was just released by Neopoiesis Press. For more information please visit:

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