Monday Poem

Why Do We Have Heads At All?
—on Daniel Lieberman’s The Evolution of the Human Head

“The head presents an evolutionary paradox,”
says Lieberman, “The roof of the orbits
is the floor of the brain.” And I imagine a room
in which a miracle sponge sits soaking up
what it means to be alive while other skulls
orbit this particular one which,
a la Ptolemy, imagines it’s a sun

This head’s tenant thinks it knows
something of the world. It sits in its domed room
sometimes as if it were a church in a cloister
somewhere emanating wishes. It wonders if
somehow it'll ever change its world. It hopes that
someday all sapient heads will in
some way plumb the paradox, lay it bare, and
sum up what they find in pithy words without in
any way diminishing the comfort of brain's appendages

“I’m not ready to ditch fossil fuels, and war's good for business,” says Id.
“Why does the head look the way it does,” asks Lieberman?
“Why do we have heads at all,” asks Jim?

by Jim Culleny, 1/9/11