the saying was exchanging positions,
over and over, with the said.
It was a summons, a shock into
a long and languid responsiveness.
You put the bit in your mouth
so as to listen for the ruined voice
of the least noticeable listener,
for when the inaudible bulges
encouragingly into the audible world.
In a way, your earliest name
was malleable but meaningless,
a biographical bundle never failing
to not arrive. So you had to improvise
a fully realized vestige, some
muffled and bloodshot cues
to be brought on trial. Bound to the sound
of moving water, you had to
straighten your mind into a frayed
and damaged equipoise, to gulp the murmur
of rising distress within the audience.
The hour was valiant; it was
meant to convey, as you
slowly departed, the briefest silver.
A back door opened.
You put your hand on your forehead
and jerked out the needle of light.
[Note: This poem comes from a sequence which grew out of a 2013 National Poetry Month initiative sponsored by the Found Poetry Review. Entitled “Pulitzer Remix,” this online and ephemeral project entailed 85 poets posting new poems every day based on the language of the 85 books which have won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. After volunteering to participate, I was assigned Booth Tarkington’s Alice Adams
(1921), a comedic novel of manners set in the Midwest. I proceeded to craft a 30-part long poem, whose words, with no exception, were derived from Tarkington’s book, and all of the 30 sections of this sequence were composed daily throughout the 30 days of April. The sequence became, in essence, a document of my
life as I lived it in April 2013 through the obsessive reading, re-reading, and remixing of a single book, an experiment of what happens when a life makes poetry, at least the writing of it, a priority for 30 continuous days despite all else.