Mark Scott

"the best damned poet in the business"

Sum Datum Rising

The maples in their robust red knock me out. I’ll never be that good.

We don’t have a smoking gun of a smoking gun.

Die down and go to sleep.

I have a carbon cough.

I’m turning into my father.


My father’s turning into me. He turned into me a long time ago. Now he’s rising in me.

He was baked in at birth, his and mine both. Twice baked. I’m his biscuit.

He’s coming up through me. He shrunk, and I can account for every degree of his lost stature, posture, carriage, and weight. He wore on me and I now wear him. He can see it in me when I visit him. I’m eating him.

He’s eating less and less. I’m eating somewhat more and more. A little more and more. I’m also shrinking, so something’s wrong here. The conservation laws are not being adhered to strictly.

Essence, substance, experience, existence, spirit, matter, intuition, discourse, literary psychology—a little bit of each is changing hands and the balance isn’t being preserved. The balance? The creation-destruction equation isn’t balanced. Was it? Was there balance one? Sieges, raids, skirmishes, ambushes, shoots, terrors, dronings. Who could have done that math other than in samples and with insufficiently large Ns? Even now, in the age of umpbytes, what agency can mass and crunch the vastness of the Sum Datum any and all data come from?

My father can. So can yours. They’re eating us alive. It shouldn’t come as a surprise or be frightening, I guess. Our parents have hacked us. They were hacked by theirs. Human beings are hacks. Google makes better decisions. I trust them to know me better. My mother didn’t know me. I think, I thought, I knew her. You don’t visit the sins of the parents (the father, the sinner) on the children. You just take them hostage. You make that point to them. You fate them in. You read them some of the stats. Tell them not to wrestle with flesh and blood but with instrumentalities. Give them any handy language version.

I learned to speak by imitating my baby. The shock seemed to come as a relief after it stopped being shocking and I relieved it. “A relief to relive,” my baby said. That wasn’t its only anti-feminist sentiment. “Ten minutes for hair and makeup is unpaid labor,” it told me, “but two hours is a hobby.” Yes, pleasure is a by-product. Reductions in anxiety function as forwards when the wrongdoing is real. The guilt walks us through that, and we learn. Or it may be nothing more than a symbolic process of forgetting where we were. Mowrer was depressed, but nonetheless he argued that African Americans, Native Americans, poor people, less educated people, shorter people, young people, less attractive people, disabled people, children of single parents, unmarried people, and divorcees were all more likely to be criminal. It was a hypothesis he derived pleasure from, but he went on to commit suicide. Then, as far as we know, he was as free from tension as possible. I envy him tonight. Violets love doom.

He’s bringing up in me he brought up. My mother didn’t survive him, and he’s never going to die. He ate all his wife too. No wonder he skips lunch and dines on Dr. Pepper and Kit Kat wafer. He’s in better shape than all of us.

He has turned my stomach for the last time. I can’t get enough of him. Crooked in his recliner, he’s all fiber and protein. He condensed and concentrated himself in me and I expand as he discandies. Daddy Candy. Daddy Pop. Daddy Cake. I can’t shake him. He disgusts and digests me. “How did you get so tall?” he asks me. He rarely considered anything relatively in 80 years, and not once in the last nine. But I’m flattered he doesn’t see that I too have shrunk and will continue to shrink. We will be the largest familial biomass that matters to us, which is what we’ve always been.

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