David Rock


Homunculus Thinks I’m a Sweet Ride

Dennett says that, when the dualism is removed, what remains of Descartes’ original model amounts to imagining a tiny theater in the brain where a homunculus (small person) . . . performs the task of observing all the sensory data projected on a screen at a particular instant, making the decisions and sending out commands. (Wikipedia)

A sunny summer day near the Somme.
A golden smudge marks the foreplay
of Chernobyl’s sordid aurora.

The world hurtles through that glow-hole
from Mogadishu to the silver-stunned
Aymaras of Potosí.
But don’t blame me—
I’m just a pretty face.
Rock in Rio. Spinoza’s boulder.
I have these walls, these quality qualms.

The iguanas of Uxmal bask in the sun
from twilight to twilight and rarely
cast a shadow.
Meanwhile
I’m just idling at the light
all wise and shiny in my saffron suit,
in my rust-colored robe.

Call me the Cold Lotus. See: Homunculus
can hardly fall asleep at the wheel,
I’m so beautiful.

Homunculus Regrets That I Spent a Month in Europe and Waited Until I Got to the Salt Lake City Airport to Buy Souvenirs for the Kids

By the time I hit the road, the war was almost over.
The animals had all been named—
call me a hero.

And I was one of Circe’s favorite pigs.
That was my island when she had me in her arms.
And you know it’s true.
Say, is that you—
my resurgent nurse,
my beautiful teacher, old and wise?

You taught me where to sit. You taught me
to wash my hands, to wipe my nose,
the one I keep to the grindstone.

(This is not the modest millstone
of the unindicted tied around my neck.)

You wiped my tears.
You made me forget

what I was going to say.
Oh, I remember:

Sometimes I arrive home and forget how I got there.

Sometimes I get in my car and just sit there,
pretending to be furious.

Homunculus Evaluates my Artistic Incorruptibility in Terms of the 900,000 People Who Starved to Death in the Siege of Leningrad

There is no healing here,
no useful miracle.

There is no I-Hop aroma
of coffee and maple syrup
to make one’s mouth water—

just a faint odor of roses.

Just Between Homunculus and Me, Would It Have Killed Yahweh to Let Moses Enter the Promised Land?

Right makes might if only, my one and only,
the sources of miracles have all been cited:
fire, blood, brine.

To each man his Horeb from which to fall
and found a dynasty of desperation. The tang
of plagues: fiduciary proof

that God exists and He’s working for Me now.
Ah, the throbbing quails, the burden
of Heaven’s bread.

Here is a slag-heap of cloisonné calves.
A registry of fleshpots and pans. Hardware
for a hammock swaying in the shadow

of a cloud that rarely rains.
All situations are life-and-death situations.
All stones are worthy of smiting,

inasmuch as the world could always end
but hasn’t. And it would be a shame
to bail on what’s left of a pretty good party:

all this prosperity, all this pent-up desire
hissing to mist in a leaf-storm of creeds,
oracular blurbs swirling like the Law, inscrutable

as Nefertiti’s number on a napkin, sealed
like the Ark with a kiss
of lipstick.

David Rock’s poems and translations are published or forthcoming in The Carolina Quarterly, The Laurel Review, The Bitter Oleander, The Main Street Rag, Free State Review, and other journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Latin American literature from Penn State University and currently teaches Spanish at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom, winner of the 2017 Washington Prize, Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, New American Writing, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, Verse Daily, and VOLT.