My gosh, what are you doing? Do you
not know how to read a book of poetry?
It’s not a newspaper for God’s sake;
you don’t just read a poem like it’s
an inked summary of a city council meeting or
the high school game that went into double-overtime.
You don’t read a poem and just move to the next one
like you were collecting eggs or
putting Christmas catalogues
in mailboxes on a postal route.
Yes, there are kind and friendly poems
on adjoining pages but
that doesn’t mean anything.
Gary Finke’s memory on page 158 and
Stellasue Lee’s grief on 159
have an ocean between them,
so don’t think for a moment that
you can just walk out the back door
of one poem and stroll
through the front door of another
as if they were neighbors and they liked you.
The poem you were reading a moment ago
is a labyrinth, and you
are foolish if you think
you’ve made it out yet.
The Collins poem you’ve already forgotten
was a delicate package--a package
within a package inside a package and you
unwrapped it with a chainsaw.
That gentle-looking Mary Oliver poem in your hand
is a bomb that threatens to blow up in
your lap and in your brain, so to detonate it
you sure as hell better know which
color wire to cut.
-- rLp --
-- rLp --