Saul Bass Redesigns the First Man

By Emilia Phillips Emilia Phillips

I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.

To make, you first have
            to create materials. Re: man, we know
the rib removed. But, before — ?
            Forget ash to ash, dust
                        &c.

                        Stick a floating rib (i.e. thoracic
11–12, y’know — “Edenic”) in a glass
            of  water with the promise
                        it’ll grow
            roots like leek or fur

                        like chia. The joke’s Crusoe
            astride the bone or   Jim & Huck paddling
rustic as a ballpoint pen will go.
            — Nn-o.
                       (That’s not a plank
                                              in your peeper!)

           It’s a hollow; cue: running

faucet, a Pabst-crack opening
                      into seraphic
           choir. (Risk Handel’s?
   A perfect major? root, third, & fifth?) With aesthetics,
                      like a bad comb-

                                            over, you don’t
           need a mirror to know what you are
   missing. Now that you have this
                                 thing, you’ve got to

   feed, roof, & rock-

                      a-bye baby. You’re the big boss, head honch-

    o, but watch out, foreman, Little Evie
                      & Adam were the first
organized union. (1-2-3-4    ...    don’t give us pain in labor!)

                      So what’ll you give him in return?

    Latin and genus?
                      Genius?
                                            . . .  Medicinal plants?

                      (I call this “Vladimir
                                 Nabo-cough,” man.)

Or do we let him take for him-
           self   by fount,
fin, & medium — language. Though from this,
                      we know
           creation is only

myth; destruction, narrative.

Source: Poetry (December 2013).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2013

Report a problem with this poem


Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.