Medicine Show (3)

This entry is part 22 of 34 in the series Breakdown: The Banjo Poems


The banjo knows
what it’s like to be sky,
how high pressure brings
the clearest sound.
I read about a woman
without a vaginal opening
who still conceived
& gave birth through a Caesarian.
This is more or less
how a banjo makes music,
is it not? She had lovers,
oh yes. And one of them,
jealous, had stabbed her
in the stomach,
permitting his rival’s semen,
which she had taken orally,
to find & fertilize
her unsuspected egg.
Maybe this is
an urban legend but
it sounds like something
that ought to happen
in a world with banjos in it.
Who needs root-workers?
The streetcorner pusher,
the New Age huckster,
the Big Pharma barker
all prescribe the same
white bomb
for everything,
expanding like a cloud
in a clear sky.

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2 Replies to “Medicine Show (3)”

  1. i’m enjoying your poems about banjos. i haven’t written, but have felt, a great deal about the dulcimer in similar ways.

    i like the idea of not needing roots, simply taking the small white pill, a chewable eraser. i think my mother took that pill but forgot to give one to me :-) a friend of mine, a uu minister who participates in ‘white studies,’ tells me that that is the whole secret to ‘white culture.’

    seriously, i haven’t been looking for roots, because i’ve always known/experienced them, but just looking for greater understanding and recognition, a language if you will, to express my past experiences. that work is nearly completed now.

    1. Thanks for these thoughts. I’d like to hear more about the dulcimer sometime. I meant “roots” here in several different senses, including the sense of ancestry. But I think this is a valid insight about American medical practice, too: ever since the medicine shows with their miraculous nostrums, and maybe as far back as the alchemists, we’ve been searching for a panacea, and we love the idea of pills that are like a vampire-killer’s silver bullets in the war against disease, ideas inimical to the African and Native American approaches, with their emphasis on roots and herbs and the restoration of harmony between body and cosmos.

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