Gold and Cardboard

By David Shapiro b. 1947 David Shapiro
1.

My son said Daddy are there words for everything? I said You mean the space between

The clouds?
“Yes!” “No!”

Like those who love to think one word will take care of Maupassant’s tree and his landlady.
But it turns out you will get no further than the words that reach and do not touch.

X uses a hard word one per poem like throwing a true diamond sale or throwing a
Ruby on a Corten steel table, a little gold in cardboard. There is a country where
They make their own cardboard. General words the French love, a thousand eyes but only one
Kaleidoscope.
Even Merleau-Ponty not specific enough (said Meyer) like very pretty exit signs
Without numbers.

Paul Valéry said the world was made out of nothing and sometimes a bit of that
Nothing shines through. No grin, no cat.

But I think: The world was made of gold, and every once in a while
Some of that gold shines through.

You. They say it doesn’t matter that you can’t read the Book of Splendor in Aramaic. “Just leave it in your house.” Amazing debilitating magic at the door!

If there were the right word for everything, each young philosopher
Could dream without sleeping. Using the same ruler and we’d all
Have the same measures and ladders without rungs, with regular risers.

Music without words: it does a good job of caring about you,
X-ray of thought the architect wanted. X-ray for the lovers—

I always loved to climb that ladder without rungs, I collect them. I fight over them, I forgive
My antagonist. Even the wild ladder without tongues. Even the literal is a metaphor.
This is not nothing says the boy to the teacher who could care less. Multeity. And if I made up a word
Would it survive like a quark of strangeness? Depends on which dictionary you’re using, I told
The president of that company. And if you made it up, like a rare country?

I loved you in the near distance like a word and rare cool blood. What was I thinking?
“You actually think?”

2. family ways


My old dead father put it to me
Women of an “intimate” age
Reconciled all separation
He sung it out

Oh family ways, ah family ways
The song contained a pregnant pause pun praise
Patiently he observed, as the rat jumped out
Patient in music, patient in clay

Patient in love and in death, a satisfied ghost

Source: Poetry (September 2010).

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This poem originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2010
 David  Shapiro

Biography

Poet David Shapiro grew up in Deal, New Jersey, in an artistic family. His grandfather was a cantor and composer, his father was a physician who had studied sculpture, and his mother was a musician. Trained as a classical violinist, he was considered a prodigy and appeared on the Voice of America program at age five. As a teenager, he played with a number of orchestras. Shapiro also came to poetry early, publishing his first . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Poetry & Poets, Family & Ancestors

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Mixed, Prose Poem

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