Friday, September 22, 2006

An Arthritic Ray Harryhausen Lets His Dog Go Free

Arnaut Daniel - he dead

So, feet jerking through St. Augustine, the one-headed dog
First strained, now freed from the leash, runs, eyes
Three blocks ahead, each vertebrae
Moving like Fleischer cartoons: repetitive, cells half-melted, skipped,
A bad print. But, still, digging deep into his toenails
The soft earth is molded and deliberate

And fills the hollows until as if by a deliberate
Preference for the shrinking of things, the dog
Thumps its paw a second time and from its toenail
A smaller tooth-shaped, toenail-shaped clod of mud ejects. He eyes
The afterimage of that bony dog. It has skipped
Past, the image shrinking. Four months moving vertebrae

For three minutes of film! A hydra's teeth becomes vertebrae
Becomes seven skeletons: four died by sword, three in deliberate
And vain endeavor plunged seaward, lemmingly skipped
To briny death after the Argonauts. They will dog
The Argonauts no more. Grinning teeth and sockets for eyes:
What is a skeleton but teeth grinding like concrete scraping the hallux toenail,

That one backwards toenail
Of dogs and birds and hydras? Animals have vertebrae
For moving. And to see, they have eyes.
Persistence of Vision is a deliberate
Gift from God. Had he skipped
That class? Is that why now his spine is dog-

Legged? Hunched over, he watches the dog
In stop motion. The mud from the hollow of the toenail
Expelled in stop motion. The dog skipped
Past hedges, past where he can see. His thoratic vertebrae
Shrink and crack. His lumber vertebrae deliberate
Until they form five question marks. His eyes

Shudder (it's the only way his eyes
Can see now). And the after-image of the dog
Like a Muybridge negative, burns deliberate
And hard: dog head, dog tongue, dog toenail.
Dog having now skipped
Six blocks. He hunches up his B-Movie vertebrae.

His aging has been as deliberate as the twentieth toenail
On Dioskilos, or the fourteen eyes on the hydra (he'd vainly skipped
Heads 8 & 9). His vertebrae: stop motion stop, the collapse of a two-headed dog

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