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Before You Read Any Further


before you read any further stop
and breathe
and breathe
and breathe
do this as many times as necessary to still yourself so you can listen
(because I want you to read this aloud to yourself to your lover to your friend)
it’s okay
I’ll wait


we are those who search for words—me
the writer and you
the reader who hears my words in your own voice
in the voice of your lover
in the voice of your friend
but what we hope to find is more than words
(more than letters more than phonemes)
and this is why poems are always written anew
because all writers are failures
but all readers are not
writers seek what they cannot find
but readers find what they cannot be given
so read on


an inability to find what you seek
is not evidence that it is not there
perhaps it is so vast
that you can ever only glimpse it sideways
take a year to travel around it
and even then at a great distance
so that its closeness does not swallow you up


or again
perhaps it is so vast
that you can ever only glimpse it momentarily
through cloud-breaks
or clearings in the overstory
as you ascend


I knew a man who binged on poetry
the way others binge on food cocaine or alcohol
the way the lonely binge on empathy
but emotional intensity
can only be sustained for so long
and even the most violently traumatized
eventually fall asleep

so stop
and listen
breathe and listen


I knew a man who looked for the words
That would make his body remember all he had forgotten
of innocence
he wanted words to touch the heart of grief
which he could never find
or uproot
although he felt it
he wanted words to say I love you and
I’m sorry and
I’m scared and
I’m tired
in ways that would make others listen and say
me too oh my god me too

I knew a man who wanted the word that would put an end to all our speaking
endless pleading endless noise
prevarications arguments
explanations concepts theories
he wanted the one word he could speak
so that having spoken it
he could forever after be silent
and disappear
into wonder
by which he meant


every nothing
no( )thing
in the space right there
the space between the thing and nothing
the word is there
( )



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