the boy who only spoke poems
by Neil Reid

raised by decent farm folk but who spoke
in dirt & trees & hammers & nails. orchard talk.
he didn’t have much to say.

he played with sticks and cats and things that
made sense to him.

neither rakes nor hoes nor brooms, nor even
a mother’s typewriter tongue engaged his ears.
only an old green yellow glowing radio
as tall as the floor was not and sprouted,
reached to the limb where he perched.

mystery, a faceless voice made right sense to him.

as years grew a few inches more he tried and tried
to speak, but it came out like dislocation and sorrowful,
none of that true, all of that lies. but worst part was,
he began to believe the made-up part.

he spoke in masks. painted bright, reds & yellows
& sea-green blues, but all of that remained steadfast,
a lie. the way clouds lie about stars.

then he thought language must be about the box,
about fingers & toes & arms & feet, although legs
almost made a bicycle leap
over moon-eyed restlessness.

then studied, like the king’s english said he should.
but couldn’t stand poems till that day, discovered,
it wasn’t poems, it was what they didn’t say.

so he wrote bad poems all day long. changed his ways.

even wrote this poem you’re reading right now.


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