Scrutiny – From Scruta

Scrutiny – From Scruta

When the rains get too heavy
Invert your umbrella
And climb inside
And glide
Down the river
And listen and hear
The voices of cicadas
As they disappear
As soon your ears will slide
Like honey from your skulls
As well
The winds’ll be the last ones left
To decompose

And whether on the curb or in the reeds
A lost left leather glove outside’s a sign
To take the first left
And, likewise, right with right
And sometimes that’ll take you
In the moonlight from Rome
to Verona
In your portable boat,
A rowboat with a rabbit, on the Erie

Stopping to sip soup — split pea —
In Scotia, or Schenectady —
A Mohawk phrase
For “through the trees,”
the hare declares
and then
You’ll pass Ravena — Tivoli, too, till
Floating by Milton
A rainbow appears

Those rainbows are nothing
The rabbit insists
But light and mist
They don’t exist
Unless, you know, they’re witnessed
by an eye, or two
They aren’t really there
Like you
You’re also only particles
Flashing about in the light
Or isn’t that right?

As far as insects are concerned
I’ll just say this:
Be careful
when you smash the roach
Not to scatter its eggs
When the carapace cracks
They’ll skitter and scatter all over
It’s so
And who knows where they’ll hatch

You will be forgiven, though,
For thinking that
Those jaguars were bananas

Fat and yellow in the trees
With those dark spots

Or are they not?
We’ll peel them apart — subject them
To our scrutiny (from scruta, you know,
The Romans’ term for trash
For refuse — and fuse
with the great black holes
Empedocles! Oh won’t you please
Be my neighbor
In the afterlife
After the advance of strife

Sliding beneath
the George Washington bridge
The water uncurls and curls
Like serpents
of the priestesses of Crete —
The princess Ariadne
And the snake she released
Who found his way
To the rod of the god Asclepius
That’s just like us, the rabbit says
As we made our way south
To the labyrinth

The Minotaur’s on Wall Street,
Or Broadway, you know what I mean
That contemptible thing
The sovereign bull,
The law of force
I’ll kill it, of course, the rabbit said
Decapitate das Kapital
The opposite, though, of the bull
Is the serpent, the sapient snake
the Just, as opposed to the law
And Fool, the word, has the same
As bull
And whale as well
The root and the route,
The track and the tract
And now, do not distract me
I am hungry, too, for radishes

Chrysanthemums, the word comes from
The Greek for gold, and flower
Just as lilac’s derived from the Persian
For blue
And daisies are day’s eyes
As orchids’ll witness
What we will likely miss
I predict

Diminishing and finishing their bones
The ossifrage’ll
Fly above the boulevards
And clean out halls of hospitals
And subway cars
of skeletons
Imagine how their ranks’ll soar,
Those bone-eating birds,
With the heat
Filling the skies
Until there’s little left to eat
And then carpet the streets
With their own bones
At least until the next big rain

And the next thing we knew
We’d disembarked
Near Dewitt Clinton Park —
The governor once
Of the state of New York
Who built DeWitt’s Ditch,
The Erie  Canal
Using rabbits, or robots,
You know, robotniks, workers,
Like us, he said, and bounded
Across Tenth Avenue
As light cast from the setting sun
Was splattering reflections
In the fountains

All the window-dotted palaces
Stretched out and collapsed
As though Neptune,
god of earthquakes,
Simply’d had enough as well
Of these barbarians
despoiling his seas

The god of storms, and horses,
Who has warned you all already
Of what’s coming

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at and on twitter @elliot_sperber