and people?

by Clifton Smith

they seem,
like anything familiar
(and pleasant),

some seem less toxic than others
most, i like
but, i have no ring to offer
and my fingers (restive)
and hands (planetary)
aberrate too often and too fast
for jewelry
which, it turns out,
is just a joke

i suppose i will leave it to those
with the fitting wit


4 thoughts on “and people?”

  1. you’ve spent too much time as Hoggle: devoting, longing, and enduring for plastic trinkets with vibrant, disconcerting stickers shouting “non-toxic,” while concealing their choking hazards. perhaps you will find a diamond more fitting to your humor and reflective of yourself.

    i suffer the same addiction—your planetary hands revolving around and encircling me.

    perhaps it helps us endure the vastness.

    perhaps it makes it feel more bleak.

    1. Muppet Wiki reminds me that “Hoggle is a dwarf who is a resident of Jareth’s Labyrinth. He has various odd jobs, such as exterminating fairies, and collects shiny objects.”

      If I understand you, I think I agree. I have spent all the time I hope to choking on shiny objects. I doubt I’ll find a diamond that changes my mind, though. The voice in my mind that encourages me to pursue material wealth grows fainter and fainter as time passes.

      Another part of me, a part I think I expose here, is my curiosity at the institution of marriage. I’ve never been able to make sense of it. In the course of trying to write this poem (incidentally, I didn’t really set out to write a poem), I discovered that “jewel” ultimately comes from a Latin word meaning “plaything” or “joke.”

      It’s interesting to me to view the giving of rings—types of jewelry—as the giving of jokes. It really seems to undermine marriage. I often ask myself, “Why the need for a ring, a symbol of love or togetherness?”
      Thanks to Carl Sagan, I’ve learned that there is a biological thread that binds each of us, inextricably, to each other. That we attempt to reinforce only certain bindings really does seem like a joke to me.

      Ron Sexsmith, my favorite musician, sings, “No one can complete you or make you whole / Love will come to greet you halfway.”

      I find that love and I are only compatible in unpredictable, inconsistent ways. This seems to result in my being alone—but, not lonely—for long periods of time.

      When I call my hands “planetary,” I’m again thinking of the history of the word “planet” as Carl Sagan describes it in Pale Blue Dot:

      Our distant ancestors, watching the stars, noted five that did more than rise and set in stolid procession, as the so-called “fixed” stars did. These five had a curious and complex motion. Over the months they seemed to wander slowly among the stars. Sometimes they did loops. Today we call them planets, the Greek word for wanderers. It was, I imagine, a peculiarity our ancestors could relate to.

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