The Homunculus

I'm hardly the first man to live in a bottle

And see the world through a different size.

I'm the King's most privy counselor,

And know the secrets lisped at midnight

By love-performing ministers

And cunning courtesans. I spy the spies

Who never seek beneath their beds

Or in the arras-folds hard by the banisters

Of the shadowed gallery. Wiser heads

Than yours are indiscreet when all intent

On easing the vexed blood-itch. I tell

No one but the King the things I hear,

Who poisoned whom, and where the florins went.

A dirty trade, you say. Well, What's a bit of a fellow to do? In high-heeled boots I'm eighteen inches tall, A whole intelligence force in miniscule.

My father was a mage, my mother a pour

Of mystery chemicals. I was born

On a table bright with flame and glassware,

And had no childhood except an ignorance

Of politics and gossip. And what a boring year

My childhood was. No company

But the pottering alchemist, his cat

Who wanted to gobble me up, and three

Disgusting nodules of melting flesh

That were earlier attempts at being me.

I was happy to be set to work,

To know who knows, and how he knows, and why.

β€” Fred Chappell


And God gave Adam hands, fingers smooth enough to soothe, deft enough to create, arms long enough to reach, but Adam sinned by trying to please himself alone, so God made Eve, and to her too gave hands, fingers, arms, but Eve sinned by wanting to please herself before all else, so God was forced to make the snake, but by this time He'd learned a lesson, and made it limbless, and its slither and hiss made Adam work, and Eve, until their hands grew rough as pumice, fingers gnarled from scrabbling for roots in rocky soil, sewing greasy skins callous-tough with blunt bone needles, arms bent from a winter's weight of firewood, a spring field's depth of stone and clay.

Still today women and men come into the world with the means to soothe, create and reach, but a burning lust to please nobody else. Every day God's forced to make another snake.


Look who's standing in my bedroom door! Give me your coat, Ben. Glad you could come To one of my fund-raising bashes. This one is for that man from Quistador. Startling, these guys in khaki and mustaches. Try an hors d'oeuvres. The catering is yum.

I hope it's just the flu and nothing more.

Even you'd be a hypochondriac

With my mother β€”it was so hard to leave her.

I wish Mary wasn't flat on her back;

I wanted her to see my new decor.

It's Pop-Colonial, a parody:

Brighton bamboo, but painted Third World red.

The knicknacks are from 42nd Street,

Las Vegas, and Disneyland: our ivory

And not one single elephant shot dead.

Mary would have loved our rebel guest, An illustration of her Ph.D. On Latin intellectuals cum killer. I think this baby far outstrips the rest. He has a Harvard social work degree

And still reads shrink books. God, I think he'd thrill her. . . .

β€” Frederick Feirstein

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