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

                        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?
                                            . . .  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).


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

December 2013
 Emilia  Phillips


Emilia Phillips is the author of Signaletics (2013) and the forthcoming Groundspeed, both from the University of Akron Press. She teaches at Centenary College and edits interviews for 32 Poems.

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