"Variations (for Three Old Saws)"
Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Stephen Yenser read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.
“Le vide papier que la blancheur défend”
Poetry makes nothing happen.
Makes it happen like nothing else.
Nothing makes nothing happen like poetry.
That is why poets are legislators.
They make nothing happen.
Otherwise it would not.
When nothing does not happen,
We’re stuck with everything else
And no space at all for something.
Poetry cannot make anything
Not make me think
Nothing happens all the time
Inside the emptiness we’re made of
Like all we know we do not know.
Everything’s mostly nothing
More than whiteness letters
Like these in these lines
And poetry depends on nothing.
Like a red wheel barrow,
Nothing makes poetry happen.