“Disassembling Required” by Eric Dittmar


When Van Gogh cut off his ear
It was for reassurance that the rest of him could disappear

That illusion of ownership that nerves create
Should have faded with each baby tooth I lost
It didn't though, contrariwise I worried I would extend
Into roads or trees and then feel the tire's friction or the elm's blight

Empathy is a bitch of its own
I pray I never wake up with a Siamese twin
I'd have to care, lest we lapse into mutual sadomasochism
That hilarious territory of bored lovers

The Thalidomide kids might get a kick
out of feeling new arms attached to other people
but that's the exception that proves the rule

After the Vietnam war, some men believed Agent Orange
Had followed them home, alive in newly discovered nerves
Now what odd god must be behind that shit!

Mengele often awoke from dreams sweating and sure
That his patients would learn a trick to generate biological anesthetics
He needed the feedback of sound to really understand the human body
"Prayer or pleading," he used to say with a wink to his bartender after work

Sometimes I worry that my nervous system
Might have a Mengelian agenda of its own

That I am woven into a potential torture chamber seems clear
but then I remember that I can always pull the tooth or cut off the ear