Speech Acts  

by Thomas Mar Wee


                             “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”

                                                          — Ludwig Wittgenstein  


I climb daily  

in the crater of language  


Desiring sentences that are like  

shafts of light  

cutting through densest fog  

Words hard & razor sharp  

like iron — hot from the anvil.  


Instead, I worry my molars  

gargling phonemes, I spit  

blood and call it  

Speech, acting  

(and all of us the poorest players)  


Silence is always an option — yes  

But muteness its own kind of speech  

And most of us do not have  

The fortitude for silence  


So instead each day  

we confront  

the muck of conversation.  

I pull on my boots,  

and wade in  

to dip my net  

into the Great Stream of Utterances  


Each poet has considered silence.  

Has weighed the blank page  

And all its implications  

Only to chose our thinest, paltriest  

Language. Returning to it, at first, like the jilted lover  

(with reluctance)  

but eventually greeting it  

with inky lips:  

Each word written— a joyous refusal 


This poem originally appeared in Quarto. 

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