Sunday Poem

From Vocable

—for JKG

Ninety now, you’re adrift on the vowel-stream,
the crisp edge of all your five languages gone

and we’re back to the least of language. It’s all one,
your, his or my slight modulations of the bare

vowel of animal need . . . though even there
how they give us away, our vowel sounds:

class, place, family secrets, the wrong
school or side of the blanket or overstayed

visa, let slip, between one consonant
and the next.

Erect

a fence of plosives, dentals and fricatives
as we will . . . in times of war and weather

we can’t stem the vowel-flood; it will swell,
barely articulate. No border can contain it;

it will seep, erode, find
cracks; it will break through.

 

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