Sensory Language

The use of words and details that appeal to a reader’s physical senses (sight, touch, taste, hearing, smell).

monday thaw

On TV it looked like a high-speed photo of a milk drop

the dying leader of the Pana Wave laboratory cult smack in the

centre.

Acres of white cloth streamered his followers, who

circled him like crown jewels.

 

More and more I'm responding to stark white on black,

letting the morning frost finish for me.

 

Calgary is fur-lined in the sun. Although the cold front

will chop us down to minus, there are hints of a melt.

Dad's three-legged shadow bends blueness

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

I’ve known rivers:

I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the

flow of human blood in human veins.

 

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

 

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln

went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy

Famous

The river is famous to the fish.

 

The loud voice is famous to silence,

which knew it would inherit the earth

before anybody said so.

 

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds

watching him from the birdhouse.

 

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

 

The idea you carry close to your bosom

is famous to your bosom.

 

The boot is famous to the earth,

more famous than the dress shoe,

which is famous only to floors.

 

Alone

I never thought Michiko would come back

after she died. But if she did, I knew

it would be as a lady in a long white dress.

It is strange that she has returned

as somebody's dalmatian. I meet

the man walking her on a leash

almost every week. He says good morning

and I stoop down to calm her. He said

once that she was never like that with

other people. Sometimes she is tethered

on their lawn when I go by. If nobody

is around, I sit on the grass. When she

January 1, Dawn

After the celebrations,

people, TV channels, telephones,

the year’s recently-corrected digit

finally falls asleep.

 

Between the final night and the first dawn

a jagged piece of sky

as if viewed from the open mouth of a whale.

Inside her belly and inside the belly of time,

there’s no point worrying.

You glide gently along. She knows her course.

Inside her, you are digested slowly, painlessly. 

 

And if you’re lucky, like Jonah,

Parable of the Eagle

An eagle egg fell into a farmer’s chicken shed

and when it hatched the farmer gave it chicken feed

even though he was the king of birds. The farmer

 

clipped the eaglet’s princely beak and raised him

as a chicken. When he grew large, wildlife control

called on the farm. “It has the heart of an eagle,”

 

said the public servant. “It will fly.” And the farmer

asked, “What if he likes it here with all the chickens?”

As they spoke, the birds crept off to don disguises.

 

The Young Poets of Winnipeg

scurried around a classroom papered with poems.

Even the ceiling, pink and orange quilts of phrase...

they introduced one another, perched on a tiny stage

to read their work, blessed their teacher who

encouraged them to stretch, wouldn’t let their parents

attend the reading because parents might criticize,

believed in the third and fourth eyes, the eyes in

the undersides of leaves, the polar bears a thousand miles north,

and sprouts of grass under the snow. They knew their poems

Happy Birthday Moon

Dad reads aloud. I follow his finger across the page.

Sometimes his finger moves past words, tracing white space.

He makes the Moon say something new every night

to his deaf son who slurs his speech.

 

Sometimes his finger moves past words, tracing white space.

Tonight he gives the Moon my name, but I can’t say it,

his deaf son who slurs his speech.

Dad taps the page, says, try again.

 

Tonight he gives the Moon my name, but I can’t say it.

Too Negative

I was a kid other kids’ 

parents gossiped about.

 

They told their children

what I was: too negative.

 

I get it. Fair to fear

contagion of bad attitudes,

 

to think naming a thing

can be an inoculation.

 

Of course my friends

filled me in. Of course

 

I took my diagnosis

lying down on mostly

 

frozen sand. Loose

grains made their way

 

to my scalp. Stayed there

Windrim

To Windrim or sycamore

           rustle cicada or bark and to Wayne

           to rustle and psoas and psoas to Belmont and Germantown hills

hills as to nearer Plateau as to Central and whisper wall Indian

summer to sleeves or the sleeveless groin as to forward

and dog shit and Cliveden to Wieland the whispering creek

as to Windrim

or mounting as Chestnut to backslid

the Juniper Schuylkill

           to boulder the pound to clover mite

vernal or rake as to tendon

exhaust of to Windrim and spare Wissahickon

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