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About this Poem 

“The original title of this poem was ‘For Anthony Madrid,  Lover of the Tao.’ Anthony is a poet with me here in Chicago, and a dear advisor and guardian. I changed the title eventually because I didn’t want the reader to attribute any of the speaker’s strangeness (basically mine) to him.”
Hannah Gamble

All That Is Limitless

I usually wake up with acquisition
in mind.

I make myself the tallest pine;
I have more birds on me
than anybody!

The sun hits my head
first—it’s cooled a bit
by the time it gets to your head.

I thought I’d get the most

if all the good saw me first
and affably went there.

It was sound,
my lightning rod approach.

One oversight
was that when the bad was coming
it also saw me first,

and would match its force
to my height in a way
that, I’m sure, if I had a stutter
or a limp
would be lessened.

In any case,
it’s time to get lowly.

Put on a formless gown
and call it a shroud
for your vanity, a gold braid
o’er your forehead

or a word you have
to explain
to everyone at the table.

Even if it wasn’t vanity, but hunger.
Even if it was mostly enthusiasm
and affectionate regard. An invitation
to join (less like “participate”
and more like “become an actual part of,”
cutting a part off so it fits
more snugly with the other part.)

Now you have a bed.
Now you have a table.

If the wood is still living
we’ll make not furniture
but a living structure:
We can do what we call grafting.
This too requires a bit of cutting.

A dormant bud
can be cut and grafted,
as can a young shoot,
but in all cases
the point of vascular connection
can end up weak
due to the varying strengths
of the two formerly distinct tissues.

Once I blew my nose in a cafe
despite the number of approximate men
in beautiful sweaters and I knew
I’d become another thing.

Now when a block is sawed up
it is made into implements.

The finest sculptor carves
the least. In this way,
the block rests
within all that is limitless.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Hannah Gamble. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2014 by Hannah Gamble. Used with permission of the author.

Hannah Gamble

Hannah Gamble

Hannah Gamble is the author of Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast (Fence Books, 2012). She lives in Chicago, where she is the current Artist in Residence at the Museum of Science and Industry.

by this poet

poem

That was the period when our daughter
would come crying into our bedroom
whenever the grackles began mating on the roof.
It isn’t hurting them, my wife would say,

birds have tiny penises. Then two cats would
find their way into our bushes and start howling
like their