David and the Dung Beetle

For Jobe and Webb

…in all that he does he prospers.

I dance before invisible design
To find the world a rolling ball of shit
But make its mother lode of singing mine.

My feet would stamp and tamp, a tambourine
To shake the stars and make them answer what
I dance before invisible design.

The wicked walk and sinners’ stand define
What never moves. While silly scoffers sit
I make a mother lode of singing mine.

Conspire and plot beneath the sun in vain,
But purest action knows I roll with it.
I dance my own invisible design.

My feats may never meet the bottom line,
But tracing closely Eden’s rising plot
I make its mother lode of singing mine.

Let Sisyphus see toil’s anodyne
As nothing more than bloody sweat and spit –
I dance for You, invisible design,
And make your mother lode of singing mine.


  1. Love “the mother lode of singing.’ Beautifully done. Thanks JOB.

    I don’t know how related this story is to your theme, but Ken Kesey said that when he was young his parents taught him that songs were for the birds, and then proceeded to teach him every song they knew.

    • As Cuckoo’s Nest and the more excellent Sometimes a Great Notion can attest, Kesey was influenced greatly by Faulkner – (KK could get away with it, I think, because of his someplace/noplace locus in the Pac Northwest and not the Christ-haunted South as Percy would say). And Faulkner said that before he ever lifted a fictional bone in his body he taught himself how to write a straight news story – “the formula” he said, for writing anything of permanence hides in plain view beneath today’s ephemeral headlines.

      So there’s our yin yang lesson for the day.


      • You know, I kind of wish I’d majored in Journalism instead of English because (as you and Lickona represent) journalists are the best wordsmiths. Tom Wolfe is another good example.

        I could have been a Tom Wolfe/HST type and go on adventures. I could have lived on a boat and had lots of girlfriends. Maybe solve crimes and know all kinds of cab drivers and bartenders and called my bookie from the payphone.

        Journalists live the lives we all dream about.

  2. Nice Faulkner/Kesey stuff. Thanks.

  3. Jonathan Webb says

    Pray for The Bully.

    • Jonathan Potter says

      The Bully’s dream can still come true — just in a Winnebago with the family in tow and minus the girlfriends. It could be an even grander adventure.

  4. Quin Finnegan says

    I myself like “To find the world a rolling ball of shit” … great stuff, JOB. Thanks!

  5. Jonathan Potter says

    This is grand. I like how you bring Sisyphus in at the wrap up. It needs another scatological reference towards the end for cohesion, though. A slight modification of the second line of the last stanza could do the trick: … “As naught but excremental blood and spit” …

    Kesey is king. With Sometimes a Great Notion he outdid Faulkner. He used Faulkner’s tools, but in a fashion far more elegant and clean and comprehensible than Faulkner ever did. I’ve always chalked it up to clean Pacific Northwest living. And acid.

    Also, speaking of journalists turned novelists, there’s Hemingway of course (how many times has Lickona read The Sun Also Rises?), but of late there’s Jess Walter who cut his teeth at the Spokesman Review. I just finished Beautiful Ruins and it is a masterpiece. Highly recommended.

    • I see what you’re saying about the cohesion thing – but that’s why “mother lode” is so felicitous – it rather covers a broad range of impressions. I’ll give it some thought though.

      Faulkner reached his best after he took off, neatly folded on a hanger and hung up his modernism in the closet next to his zoot suit.

      At any rate, glad you’re diggin’ my “shit.”


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