May 22, 2005

Knives, or the Way To a Man's Heart

by Jay C. Davis

SUNDAY, 22 MAY, 2005
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Poem: "Knives, or the Way To a Man's Heart" by Jay C. Davis from Whispers, Cries & Tantrums © Moon Pie Press. Reprinted with permission.

Knives, or the Way to a Man's Heart

It's been a great couple of weeks for staying
home and sharpening my knives,
and each one has a perfect edge now.
All this honing has really whetted my appetite.
I feel a keen hunger, for freshly
chopped and diced and
julienned and sliced and
shoestringed and French cut and
coarsely chopped and minced
meat and vegetables,
filets of fish and beef and chicken,
carrots, celery, blanched broccoli and
fresh onions, garlic, peppers—sweet and hot—
strawberries, peaches, all the tropical fruits,
parsley, thyme, rosemary and
every variety of fresh herbs.
Strop, strop, chop chop.

If you open a box and drop in
100 mice with one piece of cheese
and one small hole to escape,
and wait for the scratching to stop,
one mouse only will exit the hole,
cleaning his claws against his glossy coat,
grinning in the spotlight, mugging
for the paparazzi and nibbling his cheese.
Sociologists will call him alpha,
and Psychologists will call him self-actualized,
and Calvinists will call him resolute and pious.
Dieticians say he's non-lactose-intolerant,
and I suppose Political Scientists will call him the Voters' Mandate.
Gamblers will call him Lucky,
and what I'll call him is the Capitalist.

The experiment will come to an end
and the glorious multi-nominal mouse
will have his head snipped off
and disposed of by a blonde lab technician
with sterile rubber coated fingers,
who's interning for the summer
and hates this part of her job the most
and just looks forward to going home,
where her boyfriend will be precisely now
starting to prepare a special dinner
for the two of them—
vegetables and meat,
knives flashing, water steaming,
and oil searing in the pots and pans,
in the kitchen that's every bit as hot as Hell.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of children's author and illustrator Arnold Lobel, born in Los Angeles, California (1933). His family outings to see the animals inspired his first book, A Zoo for Mister Muster (1962). Most of his books feature animals as the main characters; two of his most famous creations are Frog and Toad, a pair of amphibians who go through many silly adventures, but always remain friends in the end.

It's the birthday of journalist and social critic Vance (Oakley) Packard, born in Granville Summit, Pennsylvania (1914). In many respects, Packard now seems ahead of his time, as many of the social issues he wrote about have remained concerns into the twenty-first century. Packard wrote several books of social criticism, including The Naked Society (1964), about the techniques government and corporations use to gather information about individuals; and The People Shapers, exploring the way science was beginning to manipulate and modify mood, personality, intelligence, and methods of reproduction and longevity.

It's the birthday of novelist and short story writer Arthur Conan Doyle, born in Edinburgh, Scotland (1859). Conan Doyle studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh where he met Doctor Joseph Bell, whose amazing deductions about the history of his patients fascinated the young student. After completing his studies, Conan Doyle served as a ship's doctor on voyages to Greenland and West Africa, and eventually opened his own practice. In his spare moments, he began writing. Calling on his memories of Doctor Bell, Conan Doyle created a detective who used his great powers of deduction to solve crimes. The first such story, A Study in Scarlet, introduced the detective Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick, Doctor Watson, in 1887. All told, Conan Doyle wrote 56 Sherlock Holmes stories and four Holmes novels.

It's the birthday of painter and printmaker Mary Cassatt, born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania (1844 or 1845). The daughter of a wealthy Pittsburgh businessman, she traveled to Europe with her family and lived abroad for four years. In 1874, one her paintings was exhibited at the Paris Salon. The painter Degas admired her style, and invited her to join his group of painters, the Impressionists. Cassatt and Degas developed a lifelong friendship, and she participated in several of the Impressionists' exhibits.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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