Pushcart nominee, Lecture on Creation, by Tod Marshall

our final nominee, from issue 10.2

Lecture on Creation

So here we gather and no one’s dead
although we all will be and soon,
and it’s sad that we miss people most
right after we’ve seen them, not
when many years have slid by,
but I digress (Rate My Professor Dot Com
says he does this a lot, his grading is
kind of arbitrary, he never combs his hair,
and, no chili peppers next to his name,
he’s truly Not Hot). To the point:
call it ontology, a spastic first dance,
call it a nervous question that makes you blink.
If a chemist conducts unruly experiments in a tall glass beaker
and zaps electricity through
to make the mold grow quickly
and eventually dumps the gunk on a beach
or some scummy body of water, bracken, greenish with stink,
where cells or zygotes jig about with jubilant joy
that says the universe is just a delicious cluster fuck—
and who’s to say otherwise? Who’s to say that my love for the sound of bad science
as well as the sound of most STDs, Chlamydia! Gonorrhea! Syphilis!,
what words are more delightful to the tongue,
to the sibilant rush our lips and teeth crave,
splendid paradox of Eros and rot, flesh gone
splendidly wrong, is anything less than love of the liturgy,
the word made flesh, Mary Magdelene’s early years
come back to relegate her to a convalescent cave
where ointments and ice do little to keep the swelling down,
to keep her comfortable, but we were with the if
of midi-chlorians and flashy comets,
plangent uterine poppies and puppies, dissected wood toads
and a little bit of fairy dust: let them go boom, boom, boom,
spastically metastasize and blossom with daisies,
a bit of soil from Mars, Zephyric notes, go-karts and a bilingual labial rush,
which means let them finally flame into something we might
call life. Is it harder to imagine all of that or the hand
of God descending slowly from clouds
into an idyllic garden (plunk!), that first wonderful couple
tumbling from a gentle palm of light? Spark Notes:
is it easier to say Molly Bloom’s yes yes yes yes
or “that uncle to all, death,”
(to quote an under-appreciated poet), and leave things
at that? Easier to sit and cry at the end of The Notebook
or Benjamin Button or even that episode of The Office
when Jim leaves the job interview in Manhattan
and clueless Karen having drinks somewhere with
friends in the city, and hustles back
to Scranton to ask Pam out on a first date
that leads, of course, to baby stuff and boredom and the show
gets cancelled a few years down the line,
and she, the actress, her name is Jenna (you need
to write that down), blushes with ancient glittering eyes
that announce the impending conception,
deus ex machina, can of Red Bull dumped
into the beautiful uterus of a soft tulipy night?
(Three beats of silence to let this sink in.)
I’d like to add two more facts: 1) My brother
Adam built helicopters on his computer for Bell,
which, I think, connects him to gunships
over Afghanistan, and yet he’s a really swell guy.
Most of life is like that, and;
2) When you look up at night to that conscious firmament
of ego, pop tarts, bean sprouts, and blue dust,
do you see clouds or light? Is there a moon?
What stars do you bring to the world?
Which leads to my conclusion, that yes,
will be on the final, open notes and must be (write it!) in pencil.
We’re almost out of time.
We’re always almost out of time

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