Words!

“The Legend” by Garrett Hongo

In memory of Jay Kashiwamura

In Chicago, it is snowing softly
and a man has just done his wash for the week.
He steps into the twilight of early evening,
carrying a wrinkled shopping bag
full of neatly folded clothes,
and, for a moment, enjoys
the feel of warm laundry and crinkled paper,
flannellike against his gloveless hands.
There’s a Rembrandt glow on his face,
a triangle of orange in the hollow of his cheek
as a last flash of sunset
blazes the storefronts and lit windows of the street.

He is Asian, Thai or Vietnamese,
and very skinny, dressed as one of the poor
in rumpled suit pants and a plaid mackinaw,
dingy and too large.
He negotiates the slick of ice
on the sidewalk by his car,
opens the Fairlane’s back door,
leans to place the laundry in,
and turns, for an instant,
toward the flurry of footsteps
and cries of pedestrians
as a boy–that’s all he was–
backs from the corner package store
shooting a pistol, firing it,
once, at the dumbfounded man
who falls forward,
grabbing at his chest.

A few sounds escape from his mouth,
a babbling no one understands
as people surround him
bewildered at his speech.
The noises he makes are nothing to them.
The boy has gone, lost
in the light array of foot traffic
dappling the snow with fresh prints.

Tonight, I read about Descartes’
grand courage to doubt everything
except his own miraculous existence
and I feel so distinct
from the wounded man lying on the concrete
I am ashamed

Let the night sky cover him as he dies.
Let the weaver girl cross the bridge of heaven
and take up his cold hands.

From The River of Heaven by Garrett Hongo, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Copyright © 1988 Garrett Hongo.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

POETRY DISORDER
by Allan Peterson

They took my pulse then punctuation
I still wrote as before
Then my caesuras went and they listened
with wires to my chest
to a kind of singing they said
that looked like dangerous mountains
on a screen like star radio
the crumpling of cellophane from space
They said I seemed to be drying out
The stanzas left  the capitals
My lines grew spare and hairless
more space between them
My exaggerations faded
My similes snapped
metaphors weakened
They said it was possible but not desirable
to make less of something than there was
and that I had left out
all of the Thallophytes Colembola  the weight of suns
just to mention a few examples
They said it was not uncommon
this widespread sickness of simplifying things

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Sigh no more, ladies…

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh nor more;

Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never;
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny;
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.

Sing no more ditties, sing no mo,
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey, nonny, nonny.

(Balthasar’s song from Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare)

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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One thought on “Words!

  1. Emilie, I’m so glad Camille mentioned your blog. I’ve been out of my own blog loop for some time and am trying to get back into it. We should talk poetry and art and just about life in general some day. We always seem to cross each others paths, I hope to do it a little more often in the future.

    Peace,
    Paige

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