Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Bleeding Mind

A great man was giving a lecture in a town
about thirty miles from here. The lecture was called
"Modern and Contemporary Documented Cases of Stigmata,
or, The Bleeding Mind." Cheryl and I were excited
about going, We managed to make several wrong turns
at poorly marked junctures, and arrived at the church
just in time. There were hundreds of cars parked
up and down Main Street, and a line of people
greater than anything we could have imagined. "Who
would have thought this many people would have been
interested in stigmata?" I said. "It's the whole
crucifixion thing," Cheryl said. "You know, people
say they don't want to be crucified, but then they
go around being obsessed with it. Look at this line,
they all want to know if they're candidates for the
stigmata." "That's crazy," I said, "that's not why
we're here, is it?" "Speak for yourself," she said.
"And, besides, this man, Ian Wilson, is supposed to
be very sexy. He's eighty years old, but with this
long white hair that he whips back and forth as he
speaks. At the end he goes out into the audience
actually weeping as he touches the two or three
people he believes may become stigmatic in their
lifetimes." "Cheryl," I said, "I don't think we're
going to get in. It's a very long line. And, besides,
the looks on some of these peoples' faces are beginning
to scare me." "My god, Aaron, I don't know what you
thought we were going to, a lecture on flatboats of
the Mississippi? This is all or nothing at all. Of
course people are terrified out of their minds,"
she said. "Flatboats of the Mississippi sounds
good to me," I said.

"The Bleeding Mind" by James Tate from Return to the City of White Donkeys: Poems.© Ecco Press.

I usually refrain from commenting on the poems I put up here, feeling that if they're good enough to speak to me, they're probably good enough to speak to you. But I should note that I'm assuming "The Writer's Almanac" introduced a typo in line 9, reproducing "imagined" as "imaged." I might be wrong now, as Mr. Monk sings, and I apologize to both Garrison Keillor and James Tate if I am, but I don't think so.

Incidentally, "the great man," Ian Wilson, is a well-known author and lecturer on the religious paranormal.

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