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Maya Angelou would pronounce ‘poetry’

with each syllable given equal, gentle

weight, and the first two clear as a call, a soft

sonorousness as if water spoke.




There are few words in the English lexicon

with so many, diverse, Attic meanings

as ‘poet’: maker, inventor, composer,

speech writer, legislator, author:

images of workshops, and lecterns;

chambers with high ceilings and long windows;

the law’s austere and tempered modalities;

stanzas memorised then taught by rote;

strings of characters laid every way;

the declamations at gatherings,

or in the mind’s crowded, private silences.




Although partially obscured by leaves,

when it is dark enough, solar-powered lights,

strung across the Japanese cherry, switch on –

like fireflies, like paper lanterns soundless

on deep waters, floating, flickering, long, long

after we are sleeping.




© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • Mary Clark
    October 2, 2019


  • Alan Horne
    March 22, 2021

    ‘…as if water spoke.’ And the final verse is lovely, David.

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