Prose from Poetry Magazine

Let us be painting painting painter singing singing singer

On the verve of verbs.

For H.E. Ephemera


So, “this is poetry,” is not poetry. We would rather be verb than noun or object even if the poem brings us to a final word as if settled on image or object image. A flat stone soaking water, a rainfall of women’s voices, secret children of muses syncopating, in the weight of clouds running down roads in the passes of august memory. The noun lives in colonies, the verb escapes with a slice of bread taken from a table set, with fruit and a pistol, a shining watermelon glass of Kool-Aid, painting painting painter. Just as we would rather be singing singing singer, the echo coming from some filmy shore as we pass, paddling paddling paddler, gliding without enough names for water, over the surfaces named water, even as we believe this is poetry, even if we believe the event remains too limited, the extended, possibility of no context, no place, just the voice, in a small room, walls of books, rotting clothes, empty subjects, hanging jackets of winter, the voice alone, at a station, perhaps, singing, singing, singer, without enough names for lyric, for an uncertain longing, with sounds we call lyrical, even as the words end somewhere, in the extending impossibility of fixed context, stopping, coming to rest where the noun lives in colonies and the poetry, singing singing singer, coming to rest, now and again, the verb singing breathing breather, breath, without even names for poetry, poem, poet, coming to rest, as if we could be poet or anything other than breathing, breathing, breathing, breather, poet, breathing, breath, breathing, breather, poet, breathing, singing, sounding, singing, singer, sounding, poet, singing, the sound, sounding, song, poet, breathing, sound, breathing, song, breather, breath.

Originally Published: June 1st, 2018

Gordon Henry Jr. is an Anishinabe and an enrolled member of the White Earth Chippewa Tribe of Minnesota. His father was in the U.S. Navy, and Henry grew up on military bases. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, Parkside; an MA in English and creative writing...

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