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Page 127

I hope to die a man of letters.
"He's moaning. Stuff some words in his mouth."
"Goodbye" has a nice balance --
a hard beginning, but it is open-ended, like
"die," suggesting it may lead to another
vowel-enriched "Hello" -- open at both ends,
lightly limited only by those most ghostly ripples
of consonant, "H" and "ll".

"Goodbye-hello" sounds like "Goodbye yellow" --
you'll wonder where the yellow went
until you hold your blank page full of poetry
written in lemon juice up to a flame.

I knew I could get blank pages into this!
(Hey, Bud, not so damned near that flame!)

I can do better than that: A blank page
is an open broad vowel (Open your
mouth and say Ahhhhh...), our marks on it
the consonants, demarcations, ways to make
the stream of voiced breath pause or
stop or stutter or trail off (Ommmm...),
all our goodbyes (like dog-piss on new snow)
ways to claim tiny territories
on this endless expanse.

Note: "You'll wonder where the yellow went" is a line from long-ago (1950s?) toothpaste commercials. The second line was "When you brush your teeth with Pepsodent". (Or was it Pepsident?) Americans think teeth aren't supposed to be yellow. How odd.

Stanza 3 suggests that the best way to decode a difficult poem is to burn it.

In stanza 3, I had a typo (just now spotted and fixed): I'd typed "blank age" instead of "blank page". I like blank age, perhaps the tabula rasa Locke imagined babies to be. Or perhaps instead of blankness, we should look at blankage.

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