Stirring : A Literary Collection

Marck L. Beggs


Long ago, by the light of a dim, smoking torch, a caveman stood scratching the likeness of a saber-toothed tiger into the wall of his dreary, moldy cave. This was a special caveman, whose images went beyond the stick-figures of his peers; this man, named Enkidu, rendered three-dimensional drawings that suggested the movements and strength of the big cat as well. When his friends dropped by, they gazed with awe and delight at Enkidu's creations. Judging by their grunts of approval, they understood that Enkidu had captured something significant about their culture.

As good as his drawings were, Enkidu knew he could do even better if he could only find the time. But there were animals to hunt, weapons to carve, and food to gather. Consequently, Enkidu had little time to pursue his drawings.

One day, the tribespeople gathered to discuss the plight of their special friend. Although they could not yet articulate the concept, they understood intuitively that Enkidu's drawings would somehow immortalize their culture. A million years later, people would know that not only had they lived, but that they had lived well. After as much careful deliberation as these ancient creatures could conjure up from their limited vocabularies, they concluded that it would be a good thing for the group to support Enkidu and to allow him further indulgence in his drawings.

Enkidu was ecstatic. The tribespeople split his share of the hunting, carving, and gathering equally among themselves, and in response, Enkidu spent all his waking hours drawing glorious pictures on the walls of the tribespeople's caves. Everyone felt honored as Enkidu's scratchings brought life to their miserable, drab walls. Enkidu, in return, felt gratitude and a sense of peace with his world.

Then one day the Philistines (from the Hebrew, loosely translated as "Republicans") arrived and conquered the peaceful tribe. As one tribesman, named Webster, who was suddenly and conveniently gifted in the language department, described them, the Philistines were "crass often prosaic individuals guided by material rather than intellectual or artistic values."

The Philistines were also armed with bigger spears and wore tight loin cloths that made their eyes bulge out of their heads and their voices high and squeaky. After trapping all the tribesmen in a large pit, the Philistines dragged all the tribeswomen by their hair back to the caves and then ordered them to prepare food and light the torches.

Upon seeing Enkidu's scratchings on the cave walls, the Philistines were offended, for some of Enkidu's animals had penises, just like real animals, and in one scene, which they found particularly grotesque, Enkidu had drawn a litter of wolf puppies suckling the exposed teats of their mother.

Needless to say, the Philistines smudged over all the pictures and forced Enkidu to spend the rest of his dolorous days scratching Philistine propaganda into the cave walls and properly disposing of Philistine bodily wastes. And they beat Enkidu mercilessly whenever he failed to comprehend the difference between the words and the waste.

Marck Beggs
Location: Arkadelphia, Arkansas
Publications: Exquisite Corpse, Agnieszka's Dowry; Recursive Angel, etc.
Books: Godworm (Mellen Poetry Press, 1996); Libido Cafe (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming in 2002)
Awards: Arkansas Arts Council Fellowship; Intro Award

Stirring : A Literary Collection

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