Friday, July 18, 2014

A Poem about The Writing in The Margins


It is the fishhook of a question mark,
the heavy lead underline like a firm nod,
the insightful reminder
It is catching the tide of a stranger’s floral
perfume on the morning subway,
when I see the dreamlike contour of
some drowsy undergraduate
diagonal over Waiting for Godot, plowing
the pages with a pencil scarred by many teeth.
Perhaps it is the grandmother
who walks her terrier around the library,
and during such a daily circuit
made a lavender note
of a particularly perplexing
response, and the single question
mark is left to me
as a reminder that not all questions
will be answered.
Sometimes, while passing by
the flaking tenement walls
behind the library, I think
that the impressive dent
at the top of the spine
must have been some raging husband
throwing the book across the room
while screaming ARE WE HAPPY
at his wilting orchid of a bride.
I am the last stop on the conveyer belt,
a corridor haunted by many voices, as I
wonder if the wrinkled circle on the final page
was cream of celery or a tear.


1. This was actually inspired by marginalia I found while reading Waiting for Godot.
2. This is also loosely inspired by "Marginalia" by Billy Collins. Also The Halfblood Prince.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Poem about Forgetfulness

Trying to Think of The Right Word

It begins with an “R,” you know that much.
Even after mouthing “ratatouille, rapscallion,
raspberry, rattlesnake,” the elusive “R—”
remains somewhere above
or below the rind of consciousness.
For some reason, the image of a white room
filled with red balloons
haunts your rumination,
but for the life of you,
you can’t remember why.
You think that “introverted” might be a
distant cousin, twice removed,
but you will wake up at 3 A.M. tonight,
profoundly troubled still because you found
the lightning bug, and not the lightning.
Where do they go, those satisfying,
precise adjectives, like basketballs
swishing through a dozen stainless hoops?
I’d like to stumble across that secret room,
where all of the right words
flutter with exactly cut wings, or snap
together into right angles
in perfect 4/4 time.
That host of the words, which were so
much more what I wanted to say
might help me forget
the badlands of the alternative,
which was so much less
than all of what I meant.

"The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--'tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." -Mark Twain