Heart of Lion, Heart of Light


A wild lion’s heart’s about twelve hundred grams.
A man’s heart just over three hundred.

In 1901, to circumvent the soul’s unseeability, doctors weighed six patients as
they died. They, in their passing, lightened some; doctors
recorded twenty-one grams per immortal soul.

(Those same men—pioneers—weighed dying dogs to certify the soullessness of beasts.)

But when the poet says i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart), no one thinks
that Cummings boxed his lover’s fragile, chambered organ up inside his own.
So heart can’t be mere muscle, and every lion’s soul must be the size of four men’s hearts.

When dying Richard I the Lionheart (arrow, gangrene, opaque heat) forgave
the Châlus boy who’d shot him dead, Richard gripped that child’s fist
and whispered, by my bounty know the light of day.

Richard’s cooks knew meat, how best to keep it; they embalmed
his heart and put it in an iron case for transport home to Normandy.

(Envision a soul as light. See four hearts of light rising.)

When today’s archaeologists sieve the dust of Richard’s heart,
they find daisies, mercury, and Frankincense. Plus creosote and lime (perhaps). CBS.com
calls it unsightly: something that’s impossible to see.

The Châlus boy (minutes before he realized the men approaching meant
to butcher him for butchering the Lionheart) was walking through the cornered streets
the way light saunters over wild clematis. Picture that boy

like Richard and his lion’s heart advancing on the Holy Land: breastplate barrel-wide,
ribs straining with heart. Imagine men who theorize
but never see the light inside him lioning.




No Blood Hasn’t Been Through the Heart
Kelly Thomas, 1974-2011


The blood in the brain that stroked
the brain. The blood in the nose
that choked it. The blood

of the scream. The scream
of the song and the song
of the blood. The song of the son

when he felt the glove. The song
of the glove (These will fuck you up).
The cove of the heart that folded.

The ribs that bowed to the knee,
the knee. Blood-bone of the knee
that cracked them. The badge of the hilt.

The guild of the badge
in the blood of the hand. The hold
of the vote that forged it. The bone

of the brain, deaf bone of the brain
that burst into storm and then opened:
The hymn of the son, swelling and split,

and the hand of the home that
moaned him. The bone of the pain
that spoked the brain and the hold

of the Dad that drove there, the hold
of the Dad running lights running
curbs running howl running heart

just to hold him. The blood
of the father that stood, that stood
when the blood of the son began singing.





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