On Metaphor: A New Basement Page

What was that
poem I once read
about the limits of language
and the beauty of
an unattached arm
that lay on the tracks of the
and still moved?

Was that
a classmate’s short story
a juried prize winner
or something out of
my own dream?

When confronted
by the
the thing you can’t say
the new now after now
that your words just
can’t describe

Do you then

that the death of metaphor
comes when you
can’t say anything
about a thing
except to say what
that thing is?

Or does it come
when you tell stories
by telling other stories
or write poems about
other poems?

Or do you just
resign yourself?
it is the gods,
we say
or the hell you say–

the promise of memory
your hand still moving
despite its absence

In synapse, in dreams
or in
metaphor, at least.

I think I wrote the first version of this for a class at Vandy–Religious Autobiography, perhaps?. I took out a middle verse that went in an entirely different direction–one that I didn’t like when I revisited–and re-focused the poem on the questions of absence, un-nameability, and memory.


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