WE MUST BE ANIMALS Manifesto by Andrei Codrescu

We are becoming machines. Exquisite Corpse has resolved to throw its sabots in the cog wheels. It is incumbent to our poetic sensibilities and fleshly complexity that we become animals. Not MORE like the animals we generally call "animals," but living Quadripeds. It will not be easy to attain the good will of pets, the ferociousness of panthers, or the patience of alligators, but it all begins by relearning Quadripedality. We will open Quadripedal Yoga (QY) studios in all states and countries, using the vacant spaces left by Bikram. The poem below, written for lyric encouragement, is a call to arms, or in the very least, to collaboration. We are inviting all readers persuaded by our passion to contribute new Quadripedal Poems to EXQUISITE CORPSE: EMMA LAZARUS, the revived journal of urgent revolutions. Your submissions should be made to http://aureolainc@gmail.com. Show us how you walk with beastly dignity.


I remember walking out of the ocean. What struggle!
Millions of mollusk years and shell games that hurt.
I remember getting up from all fours and looking down
on all my astonished variously shaped former friends.
Not one of them wanted to look up at me now I was up.
Bipedal and lonely until there were a bunch of others.
I remember the first scene in 2001 where I killed another.
I remember that every time I bent down to be closer
to the busy world of things that crawled loped or burrowed
I was condescending and they moved away from me.
I remember towering over everything that wasn’t me.
I remember the day I howled in pain because my back gave out.
That was the day I knew my body was weakly hinged
at the place where it first stood up, and I wanted down again.
Lord, help me walk on all fours again. I know that it’s late.
We only grow taller now like the towers we can’t stop building.
Since we got language not one nonhuman creature deigns
to speak to us though we pretend in vain to understand them.
Animals find it more understandable when we shoot them
then when we kneel down and pretend we are their friends.
We do kneel down often to pray not to commune but pray
that we won’t suffer from the back pain that is our sign of Cain.
I remember that I can still return to water and do flips
but I’m in charge now of all the things I covered over.
I remember kneeling to gods who were so tall I couldn’t see them.
Their heads were in the clouds, we barely reached their sandals.
Even the mono god was so tall he dropped the tablets on Moses
and made lightning to scare us all to the death we knew was coming.
In the little world I live in I sell diminishment at one dollar an inch
and practice quadripedal yoga every morning in my living room
hoping to walk one day into the street with my quadripedal brood.
It will be the day of no pain and of trading language for nozzling.
If we succeed it won’t be so hard to hope that learning screens hurts
less than when we first left the ocean, equally pushed by hubris.
Our new weak spot is memory. A bad back and a lousy memory
may smooth our way to becoming humble and wild again and good.