Tuesday, January 19, 2021

That Strange and Uniquely Homely Thing

A poem in six thousand pieces
From a baker’s dozen puzzles,
None of the puzzle sets complete,

Altogether a text that seems
Readable but has no meaning
Perhaps at all, perhaps all faked.

The most naive fans of pictures
Trust they can be universal
For anyone at all to read,

But ochre emojis in caves,
On cliffs, and carved out of antlers
Resist. You must be one who knows

Most of the shared significance
Already to learn any more.
Below communal thresholds,

Beyond the known, agreed-upon
Horizon, all the signs drain out
Like seas from a flat world’s edges.

You may enjoy a fine debate
Over which has priority,
The pictured or the phonetic,

But you don’t know how either mean,
Nor what gravity reigns sense in,
And you’ve seen how husks can empty.

What does a shed skin of language
Mean once no language can read it?
Perhaps it signifies all snakes’

Tongues outlast themselves, each other,
Immortal as Leviathan.
Or was it just life’s strategy,

One among many, all hungry,
To get shut of any constraint
On hunger’s desire to escape?

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