Here’s an odd little poem I came across:


We know there must be consciousness in things,

In bits of gravel pecked up by a hen

To grind inside her crop, and spider silk

Just as it hardens stickily in air,

And even those things paralyzed in place,

The wall brick, the hat peg, the steel beam

Inside the skyscraper, and lost, forgotten,

And buried in ancient tombs, the toys and games,

Those starry jacks, those knucklebones of glass

Meant for the dead to play with, toss and catch

Back of the hand and read the patterns of,

Diversions to beguile the endless time,

Never to be picked up again…They’re thinking,

Surely, all of them. They are lost in thought.


Mark Jarman, from To The Green Man, Saraband Books

2 thoughts on “Knucklebones

  1. In line 6 of “Astragaloi,” that should be “the wall brick” and not “the wall prick,” although I am intrigued to think what a wall prick might be and for a moment was even tempted to adopt it instead of the more homely phrase that I wrote. Thank you for posting the poem. I wonder where you came across it. It is included in my 2004 book To the Green Man, from Sarabande Books. And also, in line 8, that should be “buried in” and not “buried inside.”

    1. Mark, thank you for these corrections (which I just made and credited). Yes, a wall prick is intriguing, but I think brick works better, homely or not. I found this poem in a folder on my desktop when looking for something for my regular Monday post. I have no idea how it arrived, but I’m glad to connect with such an intriguing poet!

      I got quite a few comments by email on this post, discussing whether or not things have consciousness. I come down on the side of the poet.

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