Word Gets Around

Word Gets Around

Word Gets Around

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
May 16 2001 3:00 AM

Word Gets Around

But Word's not sure what to make of the world.
Forget epic sweep; and, please, not one more
alter-ego sequence.
Word wants a new hymn.

This morning's address: the circular wash
of a street sweep's brush, strident jays, brats
on Schwinns, semis bulked-up like blue whales

whose all-day shiftings and downshiftings
bypass the white noise of Word's window fan.
Every gear-chafing-gear is the cry (if fish

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cried) of an eel squished through a sieve.
For the realtor who called Word's address
"a cul-de-sac of quietude," let us reserve

a hereafter of such squeals. Yet he can't
just curse out of his cave like a Caliban,
can he?—pawsful of pignuts and filberts,

young scammels from the shallows—
to try and bribe this brave new world?
Aspiring to a wind chime's disinterest,

try as he might, Word can't care less.
He wants to know what's in it: being wise—
not knowing or caring what wisdom is?

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Word feels like a thrown stone, with a stone
inside, and can't sit down to a good Ham
Sah
, the world's oldest mantra, Word's new

shrink assures him: you are that in Sanskrit.
Exhale on ham; on sah breathe in this world
Word will never get. A Sufi, on getting it,

goes all inspired, and dances, hymning a tune
luminous as the ur-terms of Word's two-year-old,
for whom moon is moan, pain is an airplane,

for whom stone turns to skin as light hits it.