Failure in the Imagination
by Daniel Borzutzky

Printer-friendly version


A hummingbird flies into my window. 

I pick up the dead body of the hummingbird and fling it into the woods.

There is a splotch of feathers and blood on my window from the dead hummingbird.

A miniscule poet climbs onto the window and writes a poem using the blood of the hummingbird as ink and a feather as pen. 

He writes, the duty of poets is to bring to down the economy of the United States.

A poet I know wishes Al Qaeda would bomb the building of a poet he does not like.

A poet in New York City, he wants to get rid of all the other poets in New York City, and he hopes a terrorist will do this for him.

Casually wishing an acquaintance be killed by terrorism is an interesting rhetorical strategy, and it is one that it is valued by the miniscule man writing poetry on my window with the blood of a dead hummingbird.

The miniscule man on my window could very well be a woman.

Barbaric writers include both women and men.

Barbaric women writers value the color of blood while barbaric men writers value the texture of blood.

Barbaric hermaphroditic writers most value the taste of blood.

A poet I know says he has a long penis which he attributes to his village whose poets all have long penises. 

He is not being sarcastic when he discusses his penis nor is he being sarcastic when he says that in his village a blow job is called a cream mustache.

The miniscule man on my window is a miniscule hermaphrodite with no buttocks and two groins. 

He writes:  “If rulers refuse to consider poems as crimes, then someone must commit crimes that serve the function of poetry, or texts that possess the resonance of terrorism.” 

The miniscule hermaphrodite poet on my window is a terrorist whose deepest desire is to turn Manhattan into a giant bowl of milk

The hermaphrodite poet terrorist stands on a small platform above the bowl of milk.

He writes poetry by slicing off the body parts of the citizens of New York City and dumping them in the bowl of milk.

The disembodied hand of a banker and the disembodied hand of a poet fuse into a pantoum on the far edge of the giant bowl of milk that New York City has now become.

From now on all culture will be body parts floating in milk, shouts the minuscule hermaphrodite poet terrorist through his bullhorn.

The leg of a taxi driver forms a T with the arm of an Upper East Side gallery owner.

The conjunction of these two body parts forms the first letter in the sentence:  “Terrorism and poetry are two great tastes that taste great together.” 

Each resident of New York City has been assigned a time to climb the ladder of bones to reach the small platform where the minuscule hermaphrodite poet terrorist will chop off one of his or her body parts.

If the residents of New York City fail to climb the ladder at the assigned time, their house will be destroyed by Al Qaeda. 

To reach the ladder of bones you must cross the tunnel and enter New Jersey. 

It is a hard climb and your average New Yorker huffs and puffs to get to the top, where she is greeted by an illegal immigrant child who sells bottles of Coca-Cola and candy bars. 

An illegal immigrant girl from a nameless country in a featureless part of the world smashes the heads of the residents of New York City with bottles of Coca-Cola.

In her native language, which sounds like the hiss of a snake, she declares that she is using the tools of the oppressor to create a transformative kind of poetry. 

She snips the middle finger from A Chorus Line dancer and throws it into the giant bowl of milk.

The dancer climbs down to the bottom of the ladder, where a CNN reporter asks him what he thinks of the new poetry.

I see the bowl of milk in my window; it is now subsuming the Statue of Liberty.

Thus it is time to find a lover for the miniscule hermaphrodite who is writing poetry in my window with the feathers and blood of the dead hummingbird who woke me up this morning with a terrifying thud that I mistook for a bomb.

But here is the truth:  when the minuscule hermaphrodite terrorist poet falls in love he/she will have to abandon his/her dream of dumping the body parts of the residents of New York City into the giant bowl of milk.

For love is the opposite of poetry, and poetry is the opposite of silence, though love and silence are not equal in this equation. 

The hermaphrodite has now fallen in love with another hermaphrodite who is writing a poem in blood on the window of the house across the street.

The miniscule hermaphrodite terrorist poet whispers in my ear:  should I choose love, or poetry?

The hermaphrodite lets out a giant poetic fart that makes my entire apartment vibrate.

A poem falls out of his groin and smashes onto the floor of my bedroom.

The poem is a box wrapped with colorful paper and topped with a bright pink ribbon. 

I untie the ribbon and discover in the box a fortune cookie I immediately bite into.

The fortune says:  “An act of terrorism will soon befall your neighborhood.”

The fortune cookie tastes like chocolate cake and strawberries.

I bite into the fortune cookie and release the ocean water trapped inside. 

A voice cries:  I am bound to you by a contractual obligation both visible and invisible at the same time.

I try to respond but my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth.

The miniscule hermaphrodite terrorist poet jumps off the window, hops across the floor, climbs up my leg, my chest, my neck, and into my mouth to unclamp my tongue. 
Here are three possible endings to this scene:

1. My tongue remains forever attached to the roof of my mouth and the miniscule hermaphrodite terrorist snuggles comfortably against my inner lip until the end of time.

2. My tongue comes crashing down onto the miniscule hermaphrodite and I am able to speak but never again will I have the power to write poetry.

3. The miniscule hermaphrodite terrorist will pull out my tongue and dump it into the bowl of milk which once was New York City.