Rick Barot

(1969 / Philippines)

The Poem is a Letter Opener


The poem is a letter opener
and it is the letter that is answered
or not answered, held first by the uncle
who sorted it on his graveyard shift
in the postal service warehouse,
after which it became the postman
going from box to box, each box
a particular face like a dog's, the dog
that is also a poem, its eyes dark
like the water in a well, its fur smelling
like grass that is also a poem, green
and exclamatory in spring, later
turning the color of rubber-bands,
which are also poems, holding
together the pencils, the tip-money,
the small stone in the sling-shot right
before it takes flight, the stone that
looks like a tiny skull, granite like death,
a piece of the night left in the middle
of the day, which is also a poem,
starting with its whisper campaign
of morning light, the light touching
the clean sidewalk, the light touching
the sign in the window that says
"No Crying Allowed In This Shop,"
the sign itself a poem, like the dusk
that comes like a cowl around us,
to the sick uncle, to the thieving uncle,
to the uncle who sleeps in the day,
his sleep careful as a tea ceremony
or a poem, a poem that is old and full
of days, a poem like an old china
plate that is the color of time, the dusk
having its supper of fog and people
walking through the fog, the fallen
leaves in the parks like strewn credit
cards, which are also poems, like
the typewriter writing the letter
one little tooth at a time, one love at
a time, in our city of paper and crows.

Submitted: Saturday, June 28, 2014

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