I have said a single simple word
Enunciated it with precision over & over & over
Until I can no longer spell it
Said it again & again
Until the dark clefts of my ear were filled
My tongue numb
Until it burst into sharp fragments
That scream through my hair into the night
Bring cops & garish lights
And nightgowned neighbors into the streets with shivering children.
There is a fire shut in the bones of words.
I have stared at a single angular word until it jerked
Threatening me with grotesque gestures
And I have found isolated words on the streets in the garbage
And in mustard smelling halls on the stairs
And in the dirt clinging to garden worms
And I have eaten each.
There is a smear of sweat on the floor
Where in a fever I writhed my body
Into the rigid form of the letter `A' and of the letter `O'
And I'll give you some advice:
When a word
Has created its own thick space
In the hollow and around the enamel of your mouth
When you have savored the word
Until it annoys and persists like grit under your tongue
Its body solid as the points & flats
Of your grinding and tearing teeth
When a single word
Tastes like steel or flint
Call the police and the presidents
For you will be lost
In a din as the world is consumed.
But if you must be saved
This last word:
I throw a poem to you
Fold into itself its sinews
And with cupped hands give it a last violent shake
As if you were begging the gods for your life
Or the edges of your long gentle fingers were singeing to ash
And then devour it whole.