by Robert Perchan
Some six weeks into my 51st full tilt around the Sun I find my solitary self plucking tiny hairs
from a tuft sprouting on the blunt tip of my nose. 200,000 years of Homo sapiens evolution and
I end up here tonight staring at my mug and a poised pair of tweezers in the bathroom mirror. 200,000 years of DNA exchanges, natural selections and unselections, bad luck, good luck,
hunting mishaps, unhafted hand-axe murders, arthritic joints, rockfalls, snake bites, limestone sinkholes, abscessed molars and septicemia, famine, niche collapses, food-chain missing links,
ice age glaciations, leaky mukluks, slick ledges along steep ravines, dried up creekbeds, meteor showers, overculled herds, species extinctions, genus extinctions, family extinctions, badly timed raids for women, bewildering nocturnal swamp phosphorescences, boar gorings, bear bile medicaments, breech births, scalp lice, pubic ticks, mastodon stampedes, fatal mushroom misidentifications, herbal abortifacients, sluggish sperm, lumpy Willendorf Venuses, yahoo in-laws, rite of passage gauntlets, hardwired lusts and loathings, treacherous shell-necklace alliances, interminable emigrations, hapless local guides, jagged stones shied and dodged, botched trepannings, sulking beta males, solar eclipse hysterias, lunatic shaman auguries, androgyne enigmas, red ocher cults, contortionist burial poses, incessant cuckoldings, wrong fucking cave, man, really big predators, really fast predators, really mean predators, really smart predators, really serendipitous predators, cretinous bickering, savagely sly dickerings, prairie oyster brunches, inexplicable fascinations with pointless oral and anal sex, mutant mountain sheep bacteria, lanced pustules and bloody fistulae, fermenting fruit rinds, binges and purges and fasts, mulish Neanderthal flower-child couplings, misplaced flints, menstrual flux, naked cartwheeling teenyboppers, oneiric visitations, microcephalic succubi, foiled ambuscades, pierced labia and festering tattoo punctures, floods-mudslides-earthquakes-brushfires, volcanic fissures, straying dumbass kids, clumsy feints and endless barking rivalry challenges by firelight—to what survival-of-the-fittest end, this tuft on the blunt tip of my nose? To render me fiercer in countenance under the moon’s glare? Not likely—this square centimeter of hypertrichosis wouldn’t scare a scavenging mesolithic mus off our tribal antelope boneheap stockpile. More comely? Beauty’s relative, sure, but come on. More endearing to the whipper-snappers and thus more deserving of their future protection and indulgence? Possibly, in some cuddly Jo-jo the Dog Boy sense, but I wouldn’t lay money on it. Wiser and most venerable in visage? Don’t waste a ponder. Nope, just one of those puzzles science will have to explain on down the line. When the evolutionary biologists get the time and inclination and grant money. Meanwhile I pluck away, fearful lest any one of my grunting 20-year-old female students find me out in my desuetude and senescence. As if a bit of late grooming might put me back in the game.
Robert Perchan’s poems, stories and essays have appeared in scores of literary journals in the USA and abroad and a number of them have been included in anthologies published by Dell, Black Sparrow, City Lights and Global City Press. His prose poem novella Perchan’s Chorea: Eros and Exile (Watermark Press, Wichita, 1991) was translated into French and published by Quidam Editeurs (Meudon) in 2002. His poetry collection Fluid in Darkness, Frozen in Light won the 1999 Pearl Poetry Prize and was published by Pearl Editions the following year. Most recently his poetry chapbook manuscripts Overdressed to Kill and Mythic Instinct Afternoon were winners of the 2005 Weldon Kees Poetry Chapbook Prize (Backwaters Press, Omaha) and the 2005 Poetry West Press Poetry Chapbook Prize (Colorado Springs) respectively and will be brought out later in the year. He is currently Professor of English at Dong-A University in Pusan, South Korea. “Late Blooming” is one of a suite of prose poems on hominid evolution included in Fluid in Darkness, Frozen in Light.
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