After Words

exhibit at SFMOMA, May 2013

Cat swats at a string
that closes my window blinds.
Cords twirl and tangle.

Ceiling fan.
Mobile.
Gust of air.
Fluorescent light
blinking.

Keyboard of
jumbled letters
confounds my fingers
with words
that fail me.

Words—intricate, mobile,
turning by slightest inflection—
how taken for granted.

Slight tangling
impedes.
Movement falters.

Loss strains
one’s inner voice
to tears—

to tearing—at bundled nerves,
combing through words
that crumble and drop.

A loss noticed.
A past appreciated.

.

English class—
diagramming sentences.
Adjective hangs by a thread
from its noun.

Line by line,
words park
in formation.

Intrusion of time later,
dangling modifier,
participle lost in mid-air,
looks for a word,
scans the alphabet
like a driver
in a parking ramp of cars.

Yesterday’s distress over lost keys
seems small
when one can’t find the car
or where one’s going.

One keeps going.
Mobile,
yet lost,
up and down ramps,
past exit after exit,
a gentle Calderesque
turning.

Level
H-8
G-8
F-8—
a ceremonial winding?
A homage?
To what?

Alphabet and number
linked in faulting memory,
a helix tied by bracing line.

Does the Guggenheim
now show cars?
How did I end up holding
a parking ticket?
Where is the art?

.

What is it called when
the space is too narrow
and words keep circling?

What will I do
if speech becomes
like parallel parking
on a tight curve?

See my cat
attentive at the window?

She says nothing,
yet has a way
of reminding me,
the way words do—
to look.

Oh, cat,
when I sit and gaze outside
like that,
will anyone regard me
as highly as I do you?

Will I remind anyone
by my quiet repose
that there is something
after—

words?


.

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