Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘language’


I LOVED this conversation with Anne Marie Vivienne on her podcast Breakfast Poetry, in which we talk about several of my favorite poems (St. Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell and In the Belly of the Whale by Dan Albergotti) and narrating our own lives, meeting what life brings to our door, and finding joy in the devotion of language. It’s available for your listening here

Read Full Post »

Clean Slate

It’s almost always sunny just before
it snows—just before the sky turns grey
then meets the earth in giant swaths
of blue turned clouds turned snow turned drift,
and haven’t you sometimes wanted
to do that, too—to shift in an instant
from warm to cool, from blue to gray,
to know yourself as the opposite
of what you are, just as a day does,
an entirely new syntax unspooling
in swirling verbs and whirling predicates
so complex you forget who the subject is—
haven’t you wanted to flurry, to blizzard,
to white out until there were no tracks
like sentences left for you to follow?

Read Full Post »




When I say Happy New Year,
I hear my grandmother’s voice
inside my voice, the way
she slapped the first syllable,
the way silence hung for a moment
before she finished the rest of the phrase.
HAP-py New Year!
Each time I say the words, she
is so alive in that moment—
the syllables themselves
wear her bright red nails,
her signature updo
and her rhinestone earrings.
HAP-py New Year!
I sing out again and again,
loving how she enters
each conversation this day.
There are small ways
to bring our beloveds back,
little rituals so strong they
defy the loss, so strong
that each time we do them
we become more and more
who we love. Her voice
becomes my voice and her
joy becomes my joy.
I don’t have to look in the mirror
to see she is here, her smile
my smile curving up from the inside.

Read Full Post »

Fluency




Stepping off the edge
I began to learn falling
as I would learn to speak
another tongue—
confused at first,
disoriented,
but now the thrill
as I notice
how the new
airy syntax
and unbound grammar
have changed
everything
about the way I think,
everything
about the way
I love.

Read Full Post »

 

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.

—T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

 

 

So let me speak this year in leaf,

and let me speak in stem.

Give me photosynthetic nouns

and algal interjections.

Let my syntax be made of phloem,

let my phonemes be blades of grass.

May all my conjunctions produce oxygen

may my prepositions be moss.

And let me mostly listen

with ears attuned to soil and root

And when I have words, let them be living,

may only the kindest words bear fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

 

 

 

Priscilla the visayan warty pig

has learned to dig with a tool.

She digs with her nose, like all

 

other pigs, but then she’ll pick

up a stick or a scrap of bark

and use it to dig a hole.

 

It’s unprecedented—a pig

using a tool. And it gives me hope

that I, too, might evolve to acquire

 

something new—for instance,

an ability to understand sarcasm—

without which, studies say, I seem naïve.

 

Sarcasm, experts say, is most used

amongst people we love, despite the fact

that it comes from the Greek,
“to tear off flesh like dogs.”

Even a computer can comprehend

that sarcasm’s a tool for telling

 

true lies. So why am I so sincere?

Why does my right hemisphere not know

when “yeah, right” really means, “no way?”

 

Oh Priscilla, you inspiring visayan warty pig,

if you can evolve beyond your nature,

do you think perhaps I might? Yeah, right.

 

 

For more information about Priscilla and her science-tool-using prowess, visit https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/06/us/pigs-use-tools-study-scn-trnd/index.html

Read Full Post »

 

 

 

And when my dad said,

“You’ve gotta be shitting me,”

he meant, “I love you.”
And when he exclaimed,

“Christ on a bike,”

he meant, “I love you.”

And when he said,
“Turn off the TV,”

he meant, “Turn off the TV.”

And when he said,

“No,” I knew

he meant, “I love you.”

It was, in fact, easy

to translate, though sometimes

I didn’t like the native tongue.

But I felt that love in every word,

the love beyond syntax

love beyond lexicon,

love big enough to hold

us both for a lifetime

and then be passed on.

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

with thanks to JT

 

all day leapfrogging

from known to known to known

missing the feelings between the feelings—

ten thousand mysterious spaces

waiting for us to fall in

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/reel/video/p05sn4xx/the-untranslatable-japanese-phrase-that-predicts-love

Read Full Post »

 

 

 

Just as the sun enters the room

and changes the feel, the warmth,

and the power to perceive,

 

the right word, too,

can be a beam, can shine

into an evening, bring

 

glimmer, tidings of light,

make even the darkest corners

shine. Yes even one word

 

can become a prayer,

a gate we pass through

to find ourselves luminous.

 

Read Full Post »

 

 

 

I want to give you words,

as if they might do what

the body can’t do—

 

as if with verb I could

meet the place in you

that most wants to be touched,

 

as if with noun I could

know the parts of you

that most want to be known.

 

I want to give you

the most faithful adjective,

the one that cradles you

 

before you even realize

that you need to be held—

once I heard a song

 

written by a man

for another man, a song

that swelled, then took

 

two steps back,

then swelled again, then

took two steps back

 

before finally rising

to an unsteady ledge

and my heart

 

beat outside of my body

and my eyes wept

with tears that were mine and not mine,

 

and I want to give you words

that will find every ache in you

that longs to be soothed,

 

words that will seek out

each lonely place, that will find

every branch of you—

 

not like a wind

that is here and gone, no, more like

the bark that gives everything

 

to protect you,

the bark that grows as you grow

and takes its shape from you.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: