spring

with spring’s sprang nearly sprung
green cheer spread here and there
winter’s rust vanquished vanished
birds appeared and cats chirped

bees abuzz and poets well coffeed
at sidewalk bistro tables smiling
flowered girls no more sobbing,
words like dandelion seeds fill

vacant lots of napkins and notebooks
from self sown gardens of the mind –
happens every year most this clime
a great force in and out the ages goes.



No Word

It might have been said,
were there one to say it,
she was the last human,
but then she would not
have been the last one.

She’d been told to keep
by the river, the fresh fish
would grow and multiply.
The weather returned,
the goats and chickens.

She talked to the animals,
but she found life easier
if she kept silent, forgot
words, let go lingo and,
in the end, was no word.

On the Whole of Things

having cut it out [it, all its]
pleasure now without article
embellishment whole
some questions

consider blue hydrangea
yesterday transplanted
from pot to ground
root, stem, leaf, bud

in which will we find
whole plantness
cup without coffee
gives us to mark time

a day without hours
hours without minutes
minutes without seconds
where will we find time

for whole things
words opening
seeds, bulbs
into whole language

grown in pots
root-bound can
but describe
like mathematics
can not be


Free Words (some assembly required)

not spoken words
not hidden words
not hearded words

dug words
fished words
sifted words

surfed words
combed words
well travelled words

free words on
the sidewalk
skipped by

letters spewed
like weed seeds
across a manicured

lawn as solid green
as the village scene
where words score

sales counts
remaindered words
recycled words

composted words
buried words
words love lost

lost and found
words washed
up on a beach

words gargled
words swallowed
words repurposed

words typed
words scratched
words fallen

from the sky
like manna
made into beer

words loaded
words emptied
words cooked

words eaten
words wiped
clean

as tables
freshly set
with white tablecloths

words waiting
aside
words walking

whispered remarks
“Shall I hear no more?”
utterly.

(note: written while reading
noT wriTTen words
by Xi Xi, trans. Jennifer Feeley,
Zephyr Press, 2016.)


The Poet’s Tale

The poet is born in squalor, his first love. Some of the poet’s favorite words include seedy, shabby, seamy. These are words made with a hissing sound. In phonics, that sound is called a sibilant, and is produced by forcing the tongue toward the teeth, with the lips near closed, forcing air out like a snake whistling. But opposite words are equally valued by the poet: classy, stylish, exclusive. Even if the reader uses words without really caring about words as such much. The poet is not primarily concerned with getting a point across, and is held harmless if some point hurts its object in the bargain, even if so much the better. If an annoying sound appears to sharpen the point, there’s value added. The poet is in love with words.

But it’s easy to confuse poetry with sarcasm, satire, or irony. And the true cynicism of poetry often gives way to stoicism. This may occur when the poet realizes there is no point to anything, including his own poetry. Innuendos may still be highly valued (particularly where points may be scored), for all words have their beginning in figures of speech, which is to say, metaphor. That is precisely what an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is meant to solve. Words disallow mistake when artificial trade-offs are refused. But language is no place for despots, try as they might to exert control, to establish absolute authority. Who controls the movement of words over space and time?

Words are all substitutes. No one can claim dominion. One is as good as another. Language is democratic. And that is why the poet is married to shame, his own mother, at once virgin and harlot (that is to say, vagabond, a beggar for words). In a truly democratic society, where everyone is equal and all words hold common sway, and competition without compromise is useless, it may begin to appear the only way to have a-leg-up-on is to attempt to subject another to shame. But shame has never worked as a measure of control. And that is why poetry can be so hard to get, and why hard times come so often to poets.

The poet stands accused of nothing and nonsense. His love of words and sound and color is scorned and mocked. He is the scapegoat for confusion.