"It is necessary to study the
words you have written, for the words
have a longer history than you have and say more
than you know."
– George Oppen, from his daybook
Man on train:
You have to plan for success,
but be prepared for failure; with all the
of his squint-eyed beefy-armed years. Compressed
in the next seat, splay-kneed, in cuffed brown
an equally-crumpled friend, throat guimped in
What has happened to us humans here? and how?
The wife awaits—is she glad, and does she kiss
the meaty face—and does she love the crooked
eye; and do the giant arms enfold—her
remembering how longingly they 'd looked—?
You who say that joy can no one flood or melt
for long, adamantly I will argue down;
flailing out as if I knew, as if I had already
twenty, thirty years of love growing, grown—
and writing words—write!—as if to show
a history I haven't had, of things I cannot
The Laws of Falling Bodies, Story Line Press, ©
co-winner of the 1997 Nicholas Roerich Prize. Reprinted by
permission of the author.