The Paradox of Jerome’s Lion

Local his discourse, not yet exemplary,
Nowadays he is old, the translator,
So old he is practically transparent.

Good things and otherwise, evils done
Come home to him, too close to the bone
And so little transformed,
Him so transparent,
They float in and out of his window.

Killing fields and the pumpkin patch,
The combat boot putrid in a cherry tree,
Stroke on stroke the mortal build-up,
All the constraint, all the letting go,

So insistent in his attentions
That he needs a breathing block.
For lack of a monitor he might levitate,
The testy old bird, at his wondow;
He needs an animal, a sure thing,
One to imagine, at last. Speechless
As bedrock, a rough reminder of that.

A dog might be vigilant enough,
Intact, all heart, a yellow desert dog.
Avoirdupoids. A leopard? Markings
Regular, talons to swat
Any hurt away. Knowing
Hunger, not the greed. Sufficient

Unto itself, svelte, clean of limb;
Free through self-discipline, yes,
Yes, through self-discipline free,

And fierce, yet doing no violence
The wild by right he will restore
To a holy place, in time.

For want of that sort of a beast,
He might make do with a frog.

Christopher Middleton, “The Paradox of Jerome’s Lion” from Tankard Cat (New York: The Sheep Meadow Press, 2004).
Source: Tankard Cat (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2004)
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