The Poem of Self

by Stanley Moss

I often write in my diary the obsolete poem of self
with my obsolescent pen and ink.
So I throw a poem for a lark, like my hat,
off the Brooklyn Bridge, where Hart Crane, bless him,
“dumped the ashes of his dad in a condom,”
I was told.
I watch my hat glide toward the Atlantic,
wait for a miraculous rescue—
but my poem-hat alights, drifts, sinks down
among the bottom feeders,
the fluke, crab, catfish in sewage
of the East River, still musical, distantly related
to the North Sea. I hope my drowned hat
shelters blind, half-dead newborns
that lip the taste of my sweatband,
the taste of me their first breakfast
of undigested unleavened waste.
The River Styx has clean water where Elijah
swims with the Angels Gabriel and Raphael.

So the poem of self gone,
poetry must face, may two-face,
must honor the language, point out to readers
the garden of delights, hell to paradise,
almost, but never seen before.
Are the playhouses of God metaphors?
Is God rhyme? The God of everyone obsolete?
Then in the beginning was the Word,
the Word, let’s say, Fish, a live-bearer—
the fish grew fins, then feet,
asked questions without answers.
To wish or not to wish that is the question.
Every word is a question.
Put a question mark after each word,
the question mark is a fish breaking water:
poetry? mother? anything? kiss? glory?

So remembering and forgetting are over,
useless boredom is plagiarized,
human beings are spawned,
trees genuflect, there are
Stop! Look! and Listen! prayers
at railroad crossings.
Truth is, je, yo, ich,
a Former Obsolete First-Person Pronoun,
stole the word “so” from a friend—
seems a petty theft but is a felony
when the word packs a deadly weapon.

Looking back, God is a verb, adjective,
article, contraction, infinitive, any part of speech,
any language, since every living thing speaks God.
God is a verb—
“he was godded once by the Lord,”
means created or killed, and God is a noun,
adjective, article, infinitive, any part of speech,
birdsong, neigh, hee-haw,
bark, bray, buzz, all God’s speech.
Now the poem of you is obsolete
and the poem of he, she, we obsolete—penis and vagina,
mouth, anus, hands
holding on for dear life to each other,
everything that dreams obsolete,
everything but what in the good old days we called “love.”
Now Johann Sebastian Bach
is a verb. Bach you! Bach you!
So help us or don’t help us, God,
we have the luxury of tears, others weep
with fluttering wings, falling leaves, so help us
or don’t help us, God,
breaking my vow, so help me God.

Last updated October 31, 2022