A History of Bitings in the Domesticated Universe

A dog bites a man.
A man says, “A dog bites . . .”
but a dog bites a man again before a man can say more.
A dog stops biting a man as if to invite a man to speak.
A man, as if on cue, says, “A dog bites . . .”
but before he finishes a dog does bite.
A man is bitten by a dog as if, for want of saying it,
it became a thing.

“But I said it after the dog bit me,” thought the bitten man,
“How could I be blamed for provoking the bite?”
A dog stopped biting a man and then started again.
Not to be interrupted, a man said, “A dog bites a man!”
even though he was, by this time, well bitten,
bitten well past “bites,” rendering his statement senseless.

A dog ceased its biting of a man as if to clarify any residual doubt.
Suddenly, a dog bites a man . . . again . . . as if for the first time.
“A dog has no regard for tense!” cries a man being bitten.
A bitten man encourages a dog to bite him since,
being bitten, he must be worth biting.
“But once I was unbitten!” complains a clearly well-bitten man
with a known history of bites.
This is not so, for even in the first line of the poem,
You were bitten by a dog, but in the present tense.
“Yes, but before that I wasn’t being bitten,” said the man being bitten by a dog.

No, from the very beginning you were being bitten.
If you think back, before you were even a man, you were being bitten,
and before the bite, there was a dog, but it all happened in the present tense.
And before the dog there was the letter A, which is reminiscent
of the beginning of the alphabet, and also
signifies the oneness of the dog. In fact,
even before the dog bit you, there was another A
signifying one particular man, perhaps at the beginning of manness,
like an Adam.

A bitten man cringed as he was being bitten by a dog whose task, it seemed,
was to bite a man, for so it had been written.
“Why did you bring me into such a world,” winced the man,
a dog bite being given from a dog’s mouth to him,
as would seem to be the way of the world, as it has always been.
What other world would I bring you into?
“Well,” said a man as a dog bit a man who said “Well”
as a dog was biting him as he spoke, “at least a sort of world
where I could be a man with a name, a name such as Adam,
before there was a dog, and a dog was biting me.”

This certainly flies in the face of Nature!
For it was clearly written that a dog was the primal subject,
that biting was the original action, and that a man was,

after all this had become, the object of the action of the subject:
a dog bites a man.
And so it did. And does.
For it was written. And so it was.

“Can you at least make the primal dog stop biting me?”
said the man speaking and being bitten as a dog bit him
in a prolonged act of biting a man who could speak
and be bitten by a dog at the same time.
That you are not content with this world seems
an affront to language. But I suppose I could have said,
a dog had bitten a man, although beginning
in the past tense does not seem correct,
for if I had begun in such a way,
this would imply that something happened before this,
and that is blatantly impossible, and I would know,
since I wrote it all, beginning with:
a dog.

“Couldn’t you have written, ‘A man is being bitten by a dog’?”
squealed the man being bitten by the very dog that bit him.
I could say that now, but not then, for it was not written that way.
There’s no point in worrying about what was,
such are the complexities of tense.
A dog bites a man. A man squeals. There!
It happened again, and again, it is too late to do anything about it.

“Yes, yes . . .” said the man just bitten, full of the pain
of being bitten again and again by a dog in all different tenses,
“but the pain, the pain! This biting is hell, regardless of the tense!”

Ah . . . .
You have made something that transcends the dominion of tense
over language! That sits like a stone unchanging,
or like the beginning of a poem in which A dog bites a man
is written and cannot be unwritten
from the beginning, where it sits
like an unchanging stone.
This pain, if it could domesticate language
as language domesticates what is written,
then it may be able to domesticate the dog,
which, like everything written, is domesticated by language
as it is written.

A man’s eyes light up. A man bites a dog.
A dog yelps, then sits and hangs its head.
“I have domesticated the dog!” said a once frequently bitten man
who had evolved into a once frequently bitten man
who is no longer frequently bitten, although it was once so,
and so it will always have been.

“Whereas once I was the one acted upon, now I am the actor.
Whereas once I was in pain, now I am not.
I have become to the dog as you were to me
before I domesticated the dog with pain.
By giving pain, I domesticated the dog,
and by receiving pain I domesticated the language.

“With the dog and language and pain,
which is now rapidly fading from my memory, at my disposal,
I conquer the barbarian, tense!

“I am a man. I call myself Adam! I have a dog,
I have a language—all is born out of pain.
So, what you gave to me, once an affliction,
has freed me from suffering,
as it has freed me from tense. So . . .
I stand here, newly made . . . what now?
What else is there in this universe awaiting domestication?!

“I am the great domesticator . . . .
The universe awaits . . . .
There is, I say, in the universe,
one dog, one man, the now quite distant memory of pain,
the more recent memory of domestication.
These I call Things . . . .
I am the great domesticator of the universe . . .
which bears the mark of my domestication
like a memory of pain
reverberating into the infinitely domesticated distance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ”