Envy or Dust


I sit at my desk, looking at the dust:

The dust is envious of the eraser;

I can see it in the angle of the light.

The eraser is envious of the pen,

And always has been. The pen, in turn,

Lying by the empty cup,

Is envious of the white page,

Still blank. And the page,

Absurd as it seems,

Has grown envious, I see,

Of the screen on my Mac desktop.


This is something I didn't expect from the page

There in its blank whiteness.


I check my email: mostly junk.

There's one letter though

From an Australian who wants to argue;

He argues with me needlessly--

Theology and poetics.

Neither of us is up to this debate.


The Australian is envious of me,

It's obvious. Though I wouldn't

Rate myself higher than him,

Still I can read it there: envy.


And as for me, I am

Envious of Max, now in Milan,

Who is envious of Kafka--

Of Kafka's spare, perfect prose-- 

The same Kafka who was envious of Moses

(Though he kept a good humor about it)

While Moses, it is said,

Was envious of Pharaoh,

And so led the people out

Behind the dust storms of a new God. 


And because of his burning envy

Moses never entered the Promised Land.

For this God who came to him

Was a jealous God:

He said so Himself many times,

And wouldn't allow His jealousy to be usurped

By anyone--not by Marduk, nor Baal, nor the Sun.

And certainly not by Moses.


And the Sun in those days was called

Amun-Ra, or Aten.

This was in the days before Moses,

The days before the dust storms

On the Sinai.




March, 2005






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