I searched for these words up in the attic
with narrow ribbons of enlightenment streaming
through all-too-small windows
igniting the drifting dust specks on fire,
and on the streets in the gutters
that were gloom-spattered with murky water lunging
towards the grated storm guards
as if they were salvation.
I scrounged through soaked and disintegrating cardboard boxes
bearing the letters L O S T A R T S
and old, musty and molded trunks
that had broken locks and missing keys.
I dug them out of soft-cloth linens, carefully selected them
from heaping mounds of scrap
-like sifting through a junk yard-
to find those precious bits of silver,
sweet iridescent bubbles
encasing so delicately words like
"language" and "cellar."
I gathered these knic-knacks and baubles
and I alighted them with utmost care
through winding black back streets in my little burlap bag
to my borrowed safe-haven room. And without
turning on the lights,
the door was shut and stopped and I was perched
with great secrecy,
cross-legged upon my bird's nest of a bed,
daintily extracting each little orb
and examining them and all their wonder.
Tri-dimensional little things, that, no matter how you turned them,
seemed always to be a bi-dimensional halo of pale, golden light.
They shone, each minute embryo, like an old-time city lamp,
before such evil things as electricity came
and robbed them of a candle's beauty.
And its core, as is true with humans, is its most glorious aspect.
There is a transparent ocean in there,
with roiling waves that spin the currents
and coax every particle to circulate.
And caught in the eye of that undersea tornado are flecks of glitter,
so tiny that you would not be aware of them at all
were it not for the magnificent glimmer that they sparked,
magnifying and throwing back the fainter glow
of that ethereal encircling band.
Pixies that danced at the autumn festival.
I found these words for you,
broken and perfect and shining,
and collected them on a shelf where I could view them
before I handed them over to you.
I collected them with you in mind.
Can’t you tell?
I found words like “lustrous” and “****”
because they reminded me of you.
I arranged them sporadically,
and smiled to see “alabaster princess”
sitting unintentionally before my eyes.
And how you are my Alabaster Princess.
But oh dearest-mine, be wary of how you find these words.
Use them sparingly, and do not tarnish them.
Keep them like nuns keep themselves: ******.
If you must write them,
then write them in pretty hand-made inks,
and decorate each letter with dips and swirls, each letter a flourish.
And if you must utter them,
say them quietly, and in simple complementary sentences.
You can be Kennedy for a day,
or speak softly and let them be their own big stick.
Keep them uncommon, like you are uncommon,
and know when the repetition of weaker words can make them herculean.
Guard these words with all your strength:
with that sword hanging deftly on your wall,
with that letter-opener on your kitchen table,
with that pocket knife in your favorite pair of jeans.
Those words will save us one day,
once the world has reverted back to an aristocracy.
With that noble face of yours and this clever brain of mine, love,
we’ll con them into making us their master,
gold and land or no.
even if the sole things we own are our names.
And we’ll teach them again how to speak,
with all the sweetheart mightiness of poetry that speech was intended to have.
And we will learn to bow with all the eloquence of B.C. bible writing.
Machiavelli never saw rulers like us.
We’ll cry like the Devil on a Sunday morning
for the alteration in our names from D’evil,
and whomever first declared “they’re there yonder to get their ***!” shall know my wrath
(although that may have been me).
Parlez vous Français?
These words that I pillaged
from the mouths of great stone grave monuments,
I hope that you will remember them well.
I hope that you will pour over them
and gaze at them in all of the bedazzled stupor that I did.
And once upon a time,
when children loved to read
and sought the same type of affection that I have at last found in you,
when even the Greek gods were playing with pens and devising an alphabet,
I sat there on rocky shore, seasoning with saltwater,
drawing with my toe under the waterline,
Pretty as a picture,
and worth a thousand words.
(c) 2006- From I Don't Know These Words