This Is Not A Poem


This Is Not A Poem

All metaphors point to the insufficiency of languages.

I animate my body like a puppet.
In conversation, the tongue and teeth you argue against
are no more than my hand in a sock.

This is not a metaphor.

Why do the depersonalized find themselves holding
not No Person
but many persons?
The core, the shell, the flesh —
the self that would speak for the flesh if she found
an audience to listen.

The rhododendron in my yard ignites each spring in fuchsia blooms.
I am all my selves but one that can speak “I am”
and know its truth.

And you?
If a stranger reaches out a hand in a crowd to greet you,
do you recognize when that stranger

is yourself?


[Image: “Rhododendron&Vast ocean of clouds、コバノミツバツツジ&篠山盆地雲海、盃ヶ岳4256293” by 松岡明芳 – 松岡明芳. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

10 thoughts on “This Is Not A Poem

  1. I appreciate the layers in your poetry and the space for interpretation allowed. In this one I sensed (or perhaps projected) the human nature of not always being our authentic selves even with ourselves. Hope you are having a gorgeous day.


    1. And I hope you had a gorgeous weekend!

      Yknow, the fascinating thing (to me) about this piece: the writing of it was intensely personal and idiosyncratic. With perhaps the most private meanings of anything on the blog to-date.

      I am so gratified — and slightly surprised, if I’m honest! — with how well it seems to resonate with readers. Meaning, I managed to leave it open enough for people to read into the words from their own experiences. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing with me how it read for you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well hell, I just had a comment and lost it. Will try to reconstruct.

    I am needing some guidance on the rhododendron line…I find meaning in the rest of the piece, yet that one line puzzles me, unless…
    might you be describing the plant to illustrate that it is able to bloom and present itself in full, without any hidden parts while the narrator is comprised of many ‘selves’ yet struggles to fully present the genuine self – perhaps through self-imposed inability, or due to outside forces seemingly beyond her control?

    I am finding personal meaning in these words, through this little impromptu explication, and sincerely am not trying to usurp what you intended to voice, thus the need to clarify.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I cannot tell you how much I love this comment — especially following along as you write your way into your own reading! I’ll tell you what I was thinking about with that line, with the one caveat that I don’t believe writers have any monopoly on the meanings of their work. Intent is not sufficient to elevate one reading about another.

      That said, here’s some of what went into that image for me: the rhododendron that “ignites” in flowers is — and also definitely is not — a burning bush, with all its spiritual connotations of revelation and transcendent speech. Picked up in the next lines with the further echoing of biblical language (“I am that I am”).

      Anyway. That’s part of what resonated for me in those lines. As with most of the intertextuality in my writing (and there’s a TON, in memoir pieces as well as poems), I expect most of it doesn’t register for most readers. But I still enjoy working in these “conversations” with canonical works! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well yes, that makes perfect sense, and also is perfectly senseless to this atheist who needs a tablet of commandments to hit her on the head before she will see biblical intent in just about any writing 😉
        Also I appreciate the fact that you don’t judge how others find meaning in your words. Truly I always believed that I had to find ‘correct’ meaning when poetry was assigned, perhaps this is one reason I have issues with the genre to this day. When I am free to interpret and be touched in my own way I actually find myself enjoying the deeper involvement with poetry. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, that’s definitely a problem with how literary interpretation (poetry and otherwise) gets taught sometimes. Another problem (which is poetry-specific): the idea that if there’s no one true reading, then *all* interpretations are equally valid. I used to have the hardest time with English students convinced that, when it came to poetry, they didn’t need to support their interpretations with evidence from the text. “Well, it made me think of hamburgers cuz I read it when I was hungry!” and that sort of thing. Sheesh!!

          I wanted to tell you: I’ve been thinking a lot about your “return to blogging!” post — and I think you sound 110% on the right road! Haven’t gotten back to comment my thoughts yet, as I’m in the midst of some life stuff that’s making it almost impossible for me to be a responsible blog-follower these past two weeks. Just wanted you to know that.

          (Also? Grrrrr. You asked the other week what it would look like when I let all my anger out? Uh…it looks a lot like me writing a gazillion metapoetic poems and getting 100+ posts behind on my reading. TWO WEEKS OF FURY.
          Which is a rather new experience for me, emotion-wise — and thus somewhat interesting, as well as frustrating. 😉 )

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Okay, last comment then back to your anger flying fast and loud…there is no rush to comment to me, or anyone else in my opinion, although I do miss your little face popping up in my reader when it’s absent for a few days…

          Liked by 1 person

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