The Secret Life of Words
Peter Fernbach

Every word you read is a drunken sailor
Out to sea, turned around in a tempest
Compass blown under the pressure
Of competing Poles. Language is a map
For a field that shifts under our feet
Leaving us refugees and castaways.

But there is for each one of us, beyond storm and suffering
A Beatrice, Penelope or Salvation:
And what better name to slap on deliverance
Than Home (pronounced sometimes ohm)?
Don't we each feel - somewhere beneath the skin
And blood and bone of our daily disaster
Evasion - a compass more true, more steady
More real than the fluttering babble we get from the one on deck?

Poems are the self carving a way through
The currents that threaten to capsize our thin rafts;
Poems are the bolstering of the leaky boards
That keep us from returning to inert matter;
Poems reclaim the peace of Home
In the bedlam of survival and psychobabble.

And although we've been offshore for innumerable days
There is reason for what can seem empty words - hope, faith.
The present looks to the past as a deep ocean of possibles
And to the future - blustery eyes in the wind -
As an unpredictable enlightenment. The future
Can't be prefigured in the real or now
Because life itself writes the way.

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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