words I would kneel down before, all the way down, touching my forehead to the floor, from Joseph Stroud

Lord help me but my mind’s a blank today, only a few words
bubbling up, words like “no,” or “glum,” or “dull,” but there must
be thousands of others down there, rattling their cages, clamoring
to get out, all kinds of words, big ones, scrawny ones, heroic and
muscular ones, coy, loony words, words tasting of cloves and
licorice, cross-dressed words wearing feathery boas, quantum
words, kaons and koans, singularities, black hole words sucking up
light, love, and loss, exploding words, supernovas, words like
wormholes into other worlds, ancient words, Neanderthal words
rubbing together to make fire, Cro-Magnon words rubbing
together to make magic, spells, incantations to sail the dead off to
the underworld, words that make the blind see, that make the lame
walk, words queuing in iambs, vers libre words playing tennis
without a net, and yes, I must admit it, bad words, embarrassing
words, words I dare not mention, and ugly words, too, words with
blackheads, wens, squatty warts sprouting tufts of stiff hairs,
blubbery words, Jean Paul Sartre words dripping ennui, words
smoking a cigarette, raising a Marlene Dietrich eyebrow and looking
down from a great height, words you wouldn’t be caught dead
wearing, virgin words, cocky words, sluttish words, whispered-
in-the-ear words, Etruscan words, words from lost tongues, words
with fur and teeth, wolf words wandering the plain bringing down
antelope, words that singe, sing, and burn, words that calm and
soothe, grunt words, snarls, guttural words, vocables and syllables,
words like the sound of doves murmuring in immemorial elms,
words crackling like fire, big sky words, cloud words, the clumsy
words of first love, words like lucre, like treasure, wedding words,
the keening words at gravesides, healing words, words tumbling
down in a waterfall of long golden hair, words you could climb,
words turning a toad to a prince, Stonehenge words, words lost in
the pit at Chichen Itza, sweet Words run softly till I end my song,
these words I have shored against my ruins, words I would kneel
down before, all the way down, touching my forehead to the floor,
words like a guillotine, unswerving, absolute, words to keep from
going under, from breathing the dark waters, waiting words, maybe
a ship will pass by, an island will rise up, maybe this will be the day
I crawl ashore and you will see my wordprints in the sand leading
toward the jungle – there – the fronds rustling, closing behind where
I have disappeared into a new world, a luminous existence,
a world so perfect there’s no purpose for a poem, no need for words.

Joseph Stroud


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