It’s everything that made you stay away.
The band-sawed bodies, flesh become concrete
and peeled artistically from bones that play
at basketball or dance. A human meat
extravaganza: Sideshow! Science! Sales
receipts! The likelihood you’ll never eat
another ham. But apprehension pales
before experience, which I have gained
begrudgingly. I’ll spare you those details…
and tell you how they carved the heart and stained
the arteries. And thus you will experience
a human travesty, your views obtained
without a tad of morbid dalliance.
By this, my harrowing might come to good,
and yours not compromise your abstinence.

A moral question rises, and it should!
The casting call: A score of Chinese damned,
dissected, torn or simply milled like wood.
It seems the Chinese century has slammed
into the Seaport like a ton of bricks
as disregard for human rights is rammed
into Manhattan like the threadbare dicks
of these cadavers dangling in the light
of high-rent public space. The New York Knicks
should get this kind of play! It isn’t right.
Apparently it’s legal…in Madrid
as well as in Vienna. Gesundheit!
Just thinking that the pitcher may have “did”
somebody with the fingers squeezed upon
a pristine ball is messin’ with the kid!

We voice a strong objection and move on—
beginning with the basic skeleton
bedecked in musculature. Gone
the pliant skin and “exogelatin”
of anything remotely humankind.
The fat is out, the acetone is in,
which leaves us with a polyester rind
that resonates with monster matinees
and robot porn. Move forward and we find
the veins and arteries in lighted trays
of…could that be formaldehyde? Perhaps.
We seem to be beyond all EPAs.
It’s red and blue. Astonishing. These chaps
have laced a bloody galaxy of gore
together—valves and pipes and bubble traps.

And next the nervous system. Which is more
or less a snoozer in comparison
to all those brilliant tubes they had next door.
It’s gray, like the intestine… and so on.
Attention spans are merciful sometimes.
It all blends into one big Fulan Gong
of dancers having done their time for crimes
unknown, extracted from some hidden jail,
then plasticized and peeled like plastic limes.
The specimens, it must be said, are male
except for one—and there it is, all right.
an overlit, explicit piece of tail.
A temporary sign hangs to the right
suggesting that they may have gone too far
with fetuses ahead. An amber light.

And as we pull our heads out of the jar,
a bone of metaphysics come to mind.
We trundle to the subway or the car
to Jersey or Long Island in a kind
of disassociation, having seen
the mechanisms of our lives. Remind
me, though, exactly how this magazine
of shattered parts we viewed comes back together,
how the system acts when lights turn green
and how our bodies are a kind of weather
vane and metaphor for light, betrothed
and married to a single spirit. There
is little at the Seaport treasure trove
that speaks to me of bodies! That cement
is nothing like the flesh in which I’m clothed.

© Rick Mullin


2 Responses to “Bodies®”

  1. mrschili Says:

    I went to this exhibit last year when it was in Boston. I have to tell you that, despite my moral questioning about the process (and the manner in which the bodies are obtained), I was spellbound. While I am not a “bits-and-pieces” kind of girl – I believe that we are FAR more than the sum of our parts – it was still fascinating to see how those parts fit together to make the bodies housing our souls. Studying anatomy from books is one thing; seeing it as it really is is something else entirely.

  2. colleen Says:

    You spout sonnet like Rumi spouted quatrain. I agree with you on the subject. I think if a person wanted to donate his or her body to science to have this done for teaching is one thing, but a whole show of it is the worst kind of freak show, one in the horror genre.

    We had a new kind of poetry reading with some visiting poets you might like to check out at LL. Got next to no audience attendance on this event but it was a good first exchange of this type and the story will be in the Floyd Press, so that will help us build on for the future.

    After two years of plugging away at the spoken word open mic at the Cafe Del Sol, they are starting to pick up some good momentum on attendance.

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