Sometimes a phrase

Sometimes a phrase, or single word,
will prompt a poem. How absurd
to think that there is some great plan
on my part; so few understand

how unlike following a chart
this process is. There is no start
or end defined, no single grain
of sand that unlocks in the brain

the secrets of the universe.
A gift? More like a mummy’s curse
that reaches from beyond the grave.
All one can hope is to be brave

enough to take the message down
before it slips back underground
into the psyche’s fetid lair
(assuming that it comes from there).

It bubbles, like some sulphur gas
up through a molten, gray morasse
of hidden urges, secret wants,
and like a phantom limb, it haunts

the poet through their waking hours.
It begs, cajoles, and then devours
the retinue of conscious thought,
never elusive, unless sought

from the great void as one small word
or single phrase. See how absurd
it is to think the poet’s craft
one honed on purpose. Yet some daft

professors praise as skill and art
the bull’s-eye found by these rare darts,
and build great schools to analyze
what comes, if at all, by surprise.

24 JUN 2005

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