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Poetry by Jim McCurry



visit to the Iranian urologist

...to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield?
yes, well, that was easy for Alfred to say in Ulysses,
I guess. But how about
to yield--and not to strive to seek to find?
All i know is, enroute to Jalisco for the last supper,
I saw these two omens--
a white van, the exhaust routed vertically
all the way up to the roof, puffing white plumes;
a black van whose license plate read "Abyss 43."
I am teaching ethics (euthanasia) at Carl Sandburg College.
I have reduced my lecture on euthanasia to two words:
The plan tomorrow is to take with me a W.C. Fields
thermos ande a funnel: Pre-Op.
My ethics students say they won't operate
if I am drunk. Yes, that is the general idea, I answer.
Groucho Marx in white lab coat approaches
with huge horse needle to insert in my member.
Aaarghh! jesus joseph mary mother of god!!!!
I say to the man from Iran,
Bear with me. Indulge me one momentito ...
let me asseverate....Gues what?
You're not going to stick that thing up my Johnson.
Read my lips and ahl tell you whut:
it's not going to happen.
No. Nix. Nada.
It's not hokay. No way.
Not 'de nada.'
The opposite, in fact,
of 'de nada.'

Tape clicks on. Standard medical answer.

Now, sir, just relax.




Stare into the emptiness, grip the wheel.
Of course a dog will bark into the clear, cool night
and all the stars will flash their calm messages.
Your best friend is dead. All clear.
You can look forward to other days and nights
like this: it is just a beginning.

If there were no path, you might get away
with this quiet hysteria, these mute accusations
flung into the nights of crickets and stars
accusing the nothing of nothingism.

These blues? A temporary manifesto?
"Things don't look like they used to be."
Things wear the look of a friend who hides
a grimace of displeasure, almost successfully--
then, puts out a glad hand, puts on a smile.

Yes, it is not possible to say so, but true;
the path is the vastness, yet it guides us.
Like a trapped rat, I shift positions constantly,
crossing, reversing myself, like the frantic hands
of a clock, its mechanic guts gone wild.

Yet, books arrive. Friends email me regularly.
Push a button: the sane-seeming weatherman will smile.


About the Author

Jim McCurry has taught at Carl Sandburg College since 1980. Once, in the 70s, he published work by Doug Blazek, Dan Raphael, Jack Collom, Yusef Komunyakaa, Christopher Middleton, Marilyn Krysl, Stephen Ruffus, Arlene Zekowski & Stanley Berne, and other poets in Delirium magazine.

In '99 he received the Gerard Manley Hopkins Award from Writer's Forum for three poems. He received a first from outside judge Allen Mandelbaum in the Univ. of Denver poetry competition, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets (1977), and a matching grant from Illinois Arts Council for a poem in Farmer's Market (in 1991).

More of his work can be found online atAlba, Big City Lit, Cyber Oasis, Drought, Eleven Bulls, Identity Theory, Niederngasse, Snow Monkey, Tryst3, Zacatecas Review, Zuzu's Petals Quarterly.