Aware of what words say, not what they mean,
I am dumfounded in this living world.
With knitted brow, I oink each time I’m pearled.
I am stitched with drops — wisteria and woad —
that others cast before me. Life is fine.
‘Why,’ I ask, ‘wisteria?’ I am owed
a pittance of the earnings I must pay
in principle, if I want to persist
in living lightly on the edge of life.
I know that woad commemorates my blues
which I express more avidly than I feel,
but why wisteria? Magnolia, and pine,
and — when I’m at my best — the mighty oak
are me, or were my provenance. And weeds
are what I wear when my large debtors die,
and what I hide in when my creditors approach.
I think I’ve reasons for words I define
instead of living them. Word definition
substituted well most all the lengthy years
I was lucid, and went on a while beyond.
Like shade expanding from the church that makes it,
gloom takes in cemetery, road, and me.
The clouds of what seemed reason to Descartes
boil Bolshevik depression from the beach
and leave me panting, horse before the cart.
I shed shade, restoring tan that pale thoughts bleach.
I find respite in thoughtlessness. I doze.
The next table cheers a festive lunch’s arrival
for German damsels. They are noisy en masse.
They, in their last-ditch forties, celebrate.
I relish hot-dog tactics but desist
from sentencing them with verbs to help them end
their sentences. I’ve other Fisch to fry.
One word, an icon for all other words
that I hover by, define, misunderstand,
demands — this is unusual — a meaning.
Not what, this time, ‘wisteria’, but why?