Jim Harrison’s “Corruption”
Like Afghanistan I’m full of corruption.
My friend McGuane once said, ”I’d gladly
commit a hundred acts of literary capitulation
to keep my dog in Alpo. “ The little ones needed
dental braces and flutes, cars and houses.
Off and on I’ve had this dangerous golden touch
like a key to a slot machine streaming 20-dollar
gold pieces. It was so easy to buy expensive
French wine that purges the grim melancholy
of livelihood, the drudgery of concocting fibs.
I know a man, happily married, who bought
a girl a hundred-dollar pair of panties. I was stunned.
For this price I buy a whole lamb each fall.
Now the lamb and panties are gone though the panties
might be on a card table at a yard sale.
Right now a wind has come up and there’s a strange
blizzard of yellow buds outside my studio.
I’m on death row but won’t give up corruption.
I’ve waterboarded myself. I’m guilty of everything.
Saw a poem float by just beneath
the surface, another corpse of the spirit
we weren’t available to retrieve.
Isn’t it comforting to admit that our days
are fatal, that the corpse of the spirit
gradually becomes the water and waits
for another, or perhaps you, to return
to where you belong, not in the acting
of a shaker sprinkling its salt
everywhere. You have to hold your old
heart lightly as the female river holds
the clouds and trees, its fish
and the moon, so lightly but firmly
enough so that nothing gets away.
“Corruption,” and “River III” by Jim Harrison, appear in Songs of Unreason (2012) and are used by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.CopperCanyonPress.org.
|Jim Harrison – Smoke Signals’ Food Editor since 1982 – If you’re hungry check out his column THE DEAD FOOD SCROLLS http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=4 .His most recent books are the novel The Great Leader and the collection of novellas The Farmer’s Daughter from Grove Press. These poems are from his most recent collection Songs Of Unreason from Copper Canyon Press (https://www.coppercanyonpress.org/pages/browse/book.asp?bg=%7BD54952F5-A8FA-4706-9DD4-A4B2F9921F33%7D )|
OUTSIDE Harrison Interview (2011)
PARIS REVIEW Harrison Interview #104 (1986)