Wednesday, July 20, 2005

One Poem by Lee Herrick

Lee Herrick


I can still hear my mother saying patience
after waiting for the word to arrive
from the clue, a virtuous quality
there was always sunlight streaming
into the kitchen, tea steaming

At ten, I liked the impermanence of pencil
so I could erase the answers I thought to be true.
So my favorite six letter words used to imply
a tenuous existence like mirage, affair, cobweb.

Now, twenty years later
I have unlearned all those words (except for patience)
and I prefer a more permanent vocabulary:
words like faith, smile, adopt.

My favorite word, Eugene O’Neill’s
_________ Under the Elms (six letters)
is synonymous with love, war, future

I have learned a tabby is a female domestic cat
and conbrio means with musical vigor,
and that no human emotion is black and white—
colors reserved for piano keys or tuxedos.
Even crossword puzzles in the Sunday
are mirages down a long, winding road,
stars emerging for the night,
you behind the wheel, dreaming
of all the beautiful words you can ___________.
(Lennon tune, seven letters)

Originally published in the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Vol. 21, No. 1


Bryan Thao Worra said...

Nicely done. One good crossword poem deserves another.

An Interpretation of the Labyrinth (2005)

His identity was a Byzantine decoration of his soul, a convoluted ornament

Tacked on with the glue and string of mortal inclinations. It was his legacy.

His father’s crossword upon the table keened,

A verbal mandala probing the memories

Of her witness, descending into the riddles of yore: The ourabourus,

the draconian Tabula Rasa, the opuscules of Goethe, the koan of Anarchy.

The sphinxian tyranny of enigmatic benevolence and Yakuza desperation

Reveled between the words of Shakespeare meeting on the roads of Kerouac.

Giacometti slipped between the search for the thread of Ariadne and Arachne

As Poe embraced Christ’s ironic emblem in Cairo. Within, even the words

Cogito, Eco Sum, held deliberate meaning to the author who knew the secret

To traveling with a salmon. The maze was a cornfield of knowledge,

Its architect

A scarecrow.

Oppenheimer unsealed the home of Shiva, exposing the vaults of Dalton

for everyone to split and plunder with capricious ease. These things he knew.

The pen coiled about his hand, its fangs plunging into squares within squares,

Matching letter to letter with mocking permanence.

It was all he could do.

Finishing the puzzle his late father had begun, what he could not answer were the true

Questions that were not found upon the page,

As they never are.

mor x. chang said...


that was a very nice poem. I like how Byran described it. I am wondering if Byran wrote that poem.

Your blog gets better and better.