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Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




Certain words never seem right in poems.
Like little—too inexact, too precious—
or death—redundant as grief

in most poems.  We imitate voices
almost human in their longing for beauty,
the way a violin in nimble hands

can mimic the gypsy wail
of a mother’s loss, her daughter’s lips
still and cooling, the caravan rumbling on.

In poems, we allow ourselves to say
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday,
permit ourselves lines like

Tonight is Mardi Gras, the climax
of carnival, the farewell to the flesh.
What we really mean is

at seven, a daughter is still little,
though her grief is great
over the death of a little fish.

In the room where a fishtank stood
she scratches out Bach on violin,
everything natural a little flat—

the way we make poems
out of ash and wrong words
like certain and never and right.


© by R.G. Evans


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