Today's poem is by Marvin Bell

The Book of the Dead Man (Rhino)
                        Live as if you were already dead.

I. About the Dead Man and the Rhino

The dead man rode a rhino into Congress.
An odd-toed ungulate in the Congress, and no one blinked.
It was the lobbyist from Hell, the rhino that ate Tokyo, a lightning
        strike in their dark dreams.
A ton of megafauna, and nowhere for a senator to hide.
I'm gonna get you, says the momentum of a rhino.
The rhino has been said to stamp out fires, and the dead man
        hopes it is true.
He steered the beast to the hotheaded, the flaming racist, the fiery
        pork-barreler, the sweating vestiges of white power.
The dead man's revolutionary rhino trampled the many
        well-heeled lawmakers who stood in the way.
He flattens the cardboard tigers, he crushes the inflated
        blowhards, he squashes the cupcakes of warfare.
Oh, he makes them into blocks of bone like those of compacted

2. More About the Dead Man and the Rhino

The dead man's rhino was not overkill, don't think it.
He was, and is, the rough beast whose hour had come round at last.
The dead man's rhino did not slouch, but impaled the hardest
        cases among the incumbents.
The committee chair who thought a rhino horn an aphrodisiac
        found out.
The dead man's rhino came sans his guards, the oxpeckers.
He was ridden willingly, bareback, he did not expect to survive, he
        would live to be a martyr.
The rhino's horn, known to overcome fevers and convulsions,
        cleared, for a time, the halls of Congress.
The senators who send other people's children into battle fled.
They reassembled in the cloakroom, they went on with their
They agreed it takes a tough skin to be a rhino.

Copyright © 2011 Marvin Bell All rights reserved
from Vertigo
Copper Canyon Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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