We start with this thin illusion of safety
(thin and shiny is safe? What of ice? Knife
blades? Paper cuts? Hey, don't mess with
my dichotomies; a blank page is harmless,
OK? Ok.), then add these dark squiggles,
an attempt to tame darkness and depth
by taking great care to put on the page
precisely the one thing, the inevitable thing
that must be said -- the poem.
Just a small, controllable trickle of darkness,
following a narrow course, confined, dammed
to be released in spurts to produce
measured amounts of dark energy, our new friend,
We have alphabets that we've made our own
in school by singing them to a friendly tune:
"ABCDEFG, Now I learn my ABCs, HIJK-elemenopee...."
We have words, each carefully categorized
and explained in dictionaries full of
dry, brittle bits of ancient darkness,
museums for words, no harm in those fossils now.
We have grammar and syntax, fonts neatly
serifed, lines of type, straight left margins,
nothing here to remind us of the scream
of someone under torture or a child's laughter,
as, letter by letter, we tame the darkness,
ending each sentence with a tiny round dot --
what could hide in such a tiny dot? How
could a poem make a page dangerous?
How could there be anything in a poem?
Where would it fit?
Note: To make it safer, we often tame blankness with blue or
red or green or brown ink. Using black ink, however delicately,
is risky, but I do it for you, reader.
Re the word "serifed" at the end of stanza 4: "Seri"
is a preface meaning "silk", so a serifed letter is a
letter that has been fed a diet of silk, and that's how we do it,
reader! That's the secret of poetry. Silk-fed fonts go down as smooth
as milk-fed veal.