Archive for July, 2014

Swimmingly

Here, where the surface
Cuts everything in mercurial halves,
I look at life
From both sides, now

Clouds drifting by
The sun on the water
Drawing my shadow on the ocean bed
Ink of sand, salvaged from Plato’s pen

Frail, flickering, down there
In the chicken wire of reflections
But my, how my arms are still strong
Like the legs of a young woman

Dancing, I who never danced
Hustling, I who never hustled
As if they were the only arms
In the food chain.

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The Problem With Literature

The problem with literature is, essentially
That a good poem looks a lot like a bad
(Even as a good doctor
Might wear the lab coat of a quack)

Good and bad poems share that same
Monochrome mess of letters
Strewn across the page
At times

With rhymes
(Though, with The New Yorker, that’s a corker)
But, really, there is no way to tell
Except by reading.

Some poems have line breaks
As sensible as shoes
Some                           have
Not                                e.e.

Still, that might be a modern poem
(Even as a hipster chef
Might wear the jacket of a hot-dog vendor)
And it could be one darling of a poem

But you can’t know for sure
Until you have read it
And by then,
Like swallowing a bad oyster,

It’s too late.
Unlike oysters, however,
You can return to that same poem
Decades later only to realize

That you — yes, you!
Are no longer the same
And that’s why we need
The problem with literature.

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