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Page 38

What a shock, the first time,
when no one notices (and if Mom says
the poems are wonderful; that almost
makes it worse). Because, after all,
the poems are in print. They look
official. They are in black and white,
each character correctly curlicued,
each comma a perfect black ball with a
perfect half-crescent tail (a comma comet).

It must be true: It's printed in a book.
Behold, the blankness of the page
has been broken up into well-marked lots
for the housing of public minds, a
wilderness tamed and landscaped. People
can live in these words; they have gardens,
hot and cold running ideas, space (see
all this space) -- but where, Oh where
are all the people to live in these words?
Where are the hands to turn these crisp pages,
the fingertips to caress these neat lines,

the eyes to slip into these I's and you's,
the you's the poet uses to show you
that you are already here -- but where?
Where are you? Where am I without you?

These poor, vacant pronouns, like decoy ducks,
rock gently on the water as I wait,
watching distant schools of you fly past
far overhead. I'm alone here with my
gaily painted wooden pronouns:


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