Monday, 4 January 2016


You There
      by Tom Dilworth

I am putting you into this poem
and keeping you here.

You dislike constraint,
but how different is this from being
in your body? in the world?

Obviously it’s not enough for you
to be here as a pronoun.

So take your pick of an image in a metaphor:
A stick of chewing gum, a snowflake, a sliver of light,
A piece of gravel?
a bridge?
One of these please.

A bridge then—Boethius, too, liked that one.
But which? Brooklyn Bridge,
is already famously taken.
How about the Mackinaw Bridge, immense
and beautiful?

We feel you sway, the wind pulling us into itself
for delivery to distant whitecaps.
We cling to you, O Mackinaw Bridge,
especially those who panic halfway across.
Others traverse and vanish. The waters below
pass from Superior and Michigan into Huron, Erie, Ontario,
the St. Lawrence and the sea,
but you remain
like landscape.
This poem is your strait.

Or be a peach, sexy, delectable,
a juicy Angelus, hot with sun
but virginal, still on the branch,
softening, sweetening, just for me I’d like to think
but  know better.
This poem is your tree.

Or a bullet fired from preverbal casing
into the warm body of these words.

As they cool, a plump young forensics expert
digs towards you unsuccessfully
because you transform
into a diamond at the bottom of a mine shaft
which collapses—kaboof
burying you forever,
deprived of air and light,
unaware of ever having been lead or human,
impervious to the forensics expert’s corpse
above and oozing.

You dislike blood.
I knew you’d be hard to please.

A bee, then,
furry, humming, heavy with pollen,
dreaming of honey and the queen,
remembering the way to daisy fields
ready to dance directions. This poem
is your hive.
Welcome home,
bumping and rubbing the others.

Or try a word of some distinction:
indefatigable? delirious?
Not biliousness. And not duress,
since you can’t be here under yourself.
How about impervious from nineteen lines ago?
No. Then thong?

What’s wrong with thong?
Ok, so no one’s going to wear you between butt cheeks.
If you were a thong you wouldn’t mind
but I guess you’re not.

Consider prepositions.
Some have class.
I recommend thence or whence,
forgetting here and now.
because you want to be noticed.
Yes you do.
This is no place for false modesty.

Rambunctious? No, too Roman.
Ululation, then? that lovely barbarian
always on the losing side.
Of course not, what was I thinking?
No single word fits,
not even your name.

How about a simile? like puddle-glimmer of gasoline,
brighter than the pond-scum you declined.
Or like the hot surprise when you first touch dry ice,
like sunrise over snow,
like chewing foil that wrapped the gum you wouldn’t become
            in line ten (how soon they forget),
like a typhoon tightening shrouds between top tree and futtock
Ok, forget that, you who won’t be a thong.
Or like the butterfly kiss of a lover’s eyelash on your lower lip,
 but then it couldn’t be your lip, could it?
I guess you are like nothing else.

A nuance would suit, but how do I manage that
for someone so enigmatic.

Let this poem be your composite innuendo,
the opaque envelope of your mystery, implying
but not revealing the truth and goodness at the heart of you,
and hinting (I think I can manage a hint) at your longing
for the beauty that you lack.

‘Like this poem,’ you’re thinking,
or its writer. (Have we met?)
Let this, then, be me forgiving you,
and pardon by all you ever knew, for everything.
Let this be the verse where you deposit guilt
when you go (as you will)
Oh, but you’ve left that verse,
                                          a missed opportunity.
Ok, then when you go from this stanza,
put guilt aside,
shove it into this gap        

 brimming with molten lava
—there, it’s no longer yours and now no longer itself.

How does it feel to be innocent again?
                              You never were?
For the first time, then!
Even better.

And to think I had to drag you into this.

And now
just for you, a house with high ceilings
and many windows,
a view of green fields full of wildflowers
(where your bee hummed),
fields alive with unmetaphorical butterflies,
commas, say,
extending to hills and virgin forest
      (all virginity in this poem
      is metaphorical)
where you can roam or run,
young again, with a sweetheart,
gorgeous, witty, cheerful, kind,
just your type.
And above, a blue sky with Simpson-puffy clouds
where you can fly. Yes, try,
extend your arms, lean forward,

                                                                  you’re off.
               in serenity interrupted only
                                                      by bubblings of joy.

See, this isn’t such a bad poem to be in.

I know,
I know, you want your liberty,
but how free were you ever?
sovereign mostly over attitudes.
So choose one and don’t complain.
unless that’s your choice.

All right,
I’ll tell you what,
when you wish to stay, then
you’re free to go.

Tom Dilworth | Windsor  ON | 2016

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