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Jan Henson Dow

After Reading Velikovsky

“The bones of hippopotami are found

as far north as Yorkshire?”

Did they set sail, floating northward

from crocodile infested rivers

in the warm South?

Their compass somehow circling, circling

for true North.

All about them ice flows thicken

in the cold air.

Why would any living thing leave that warm tide

to find a lost pole?

Puzzles like these interest me

though the pieces do not fit.

I have traced the archipelago of myself

across the tusks of Siberian mammoth,

a terrifying scrimshaw of breast

and belly, gums, teeth and bone

flash frozen in ancient amber.

Could I trace myself, tracing myself

back through the icy glass of time

To find the hand that holds the charcoal


along a single line?

Oh America! Oh Benjamin!

Found poem from D.H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature (1923)

Oh America! Oh Benjamin!

Doctor Franklin,

snuff-colored little man.

The hour has struck!

The free mob will lynch me,

and that’s my freedom.

What did the Pilgrim Fathers come for, then,

when they came so gruesomely over the black sea?


The Perfectibility of Man!

Ah heaven, what a dreary theme!

The perfectibility of the Ford Car!

I am many men.

Which of them are you going to perfect?

There are other men in me

besides this patient ass

who sits here in a tweed jacket.

Oh, but I have a strange and fugitive self

shut out and howling like a wolf.

See his red eyes in the dark?

The soul of man is a dark forest,

The Hercynian Wood that scared the Romans so,

Here am I now in tatters and scratched to ribbons.

Even the husbandman strains in dark mastery

over the unwilling earth and beast.


The Aztec is gone, and the Incas.

The Red Indian, the Esquimo, the Patagonian

are negligible numbers.

Ou’ sont les neiges d’antan?

My dear, wherever they are,

they will come down again next winter,

sure as houses.

The Red Man is dead and unappeased.

Do not imagine him happy in his

Happy Hunting Ground.


Think of it.


And birds of paradise.

And apples.

There are ghosts in the air.

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