from You, part I

By Ron Silliman b. 1946 Ron Silliman

for Pat Silliman



Hard dreams. The moment at which you recognize that your own death lies

in wait somewhere within your body. A lone ship defines the horizon. The

rain is not safe to drink.


In Grozny, in Bihac, the idea of history shudders with each new explosion.

The rose lies unattended, wild thorns at the edge of a mass grave. Between

classes, over strong coffee, young men argue the value of a pronoun.


When this you see, remember. Note in a bottle bobs in a cartoon sea. The

radio operator’s name is Sparks.


Hand outlined in paint on a brick wall. Storm turns playground into a

swamp. Finally we spot the wood duck on the middle lake.


The dashboard of my car like the keyboard of a piano. Toy animals anywhere.


Sun swells in the morning sky.


Man with three pens clipped to the neck of his sweatshirt shuffles from one

table to the next, seeking distance from the cold January air out the coffee

house door, tall Styrofoam cup in one hand, Of Grammatology in the other.

Outside, a dog is tied to any empty bench, bike chained to the No Parking


Ron Silliman, “You” (I) from The Alphabet. Copyright © 2008 by Ron Silliman. Reprinted by permission of University of Alabama Press.

Source: The Alphabet (The University of Alabama Press, 2008)

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Poet Ron Silliman b. 1946

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Living, Death, Life Choices, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

 Ron  Silliman


An influential figure in contemporary poetics, Ron Silliman became associated with the West Coast literary movement known as “Language poetry” in the 1960s and ‘70s. He edited In the American Tree (1986), which remains the primary Language poetry anthology, as well as penned one of the movement’s defining critical texts, The New Sentence (1987). Silliman’s prolific publishing career includes over thirty books of poetry, critical . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Death, Life Choices, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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