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The Way I Learned to Write

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There were words I had to leave behind,
moonlight, backward ponies.
Leaving flowers out seemed safest.
Trying for something surreal,
A trouble free rise of smoke and lavender.

No not lavender. Any shade
of purple is best left alone.
Perhaps a jaundiced smoke
rising in my poetry
would be best, although I like violet haze.

Many a summer morning,
while other folks are
eating bagels, lox,
cinnamon rolls,
I rummage through old cider houses,

find words like obdurate,
bipolar, manic, cold heeled.
But writing about love, well,
not even searches to junkyards
as far away as Peking

turn up the slightest unused vowel.
So, I make words up, create my own language.
You Chinese me in the roofy mornings.
You Japanese my legs in the spidery evenings.
Our children are the leggy offspring

of centipede afternoons. Our bedroom
is the Acropolis. You temple me backward.
I could bless you all the way to shadowland.
If we were not already steepled there,
our undergarments ruffianed off onto chairs.

You catapulted silence,
dogkissed, catlicked my paws
held my squeaks and rattles.
Where the rest had said, What’s this?
You said, it’s mine.

Kate Gale, “The Way I Learned to Write” from Fishers of Men. Copyright © 2000 by Kate Gale. Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.
Source: Fishers of Men (Red Hen Press, 2000)
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The Way I Learned to Write

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