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Words Are the Sum

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1


As so-called quarks, so atoms before and through
And after molecules, which too
Constitute us awhile, pluming

Through our slowly changing shapes
Like beachscapes
Through a duneless sandglass, say

(I said, once) — all these
So utterly forgetful, wiped clean
As numbers with each new use, lint-free.

How not so words, which pass our minds
And mouths and ears from hind-
Most elsewhere, on their way to elsewhere — why

So?
Words are the sum of their histories: rose
And roke and no and blanketing snow.


2


So much less LEGO-like, click-
Click together than like slick
Tentacular

Colonial hydrozoans tossed
Together in the copper pots
Of   predication — all cross-

Shock and shimmery tangle —
How can
Anyone calculate semantic

Sets so dervishly complex?
How can we not expect not less but hellish
Much more than to mean what we say? Then guess:

How can we better but
Hope to become in sum what
We say when we say again love?

Source: Poetry (December 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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Words Are the Sum

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