(sign at a railroad crossing in Kenya)

In a poem, one line may hide another line,
As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.
That is, if you are waiting to cross
The tracks, wait to do it for one moment at
Least after the first train is gone. And so when you read
Wait until you have read the next line—
Then it is safe to go on reading.
In a family one sister may conceal another,
So, when you are courting, it's best to have them all in view
Otherwise in coming to find one you may love another.
One father or one brother may hide the man,
If you are a woman, whom you have been waiting to love.
So always standing in front of something the other
As words stand in front of objects, feelings, and ideas.
One wish may hide another. And one person's reputation may hide
The reputation of another. One dog may conceal another
On a lawn, so if you escape the first one you're not necessarily safe;
One lilac may hide another and then a lot of lilacs and on the Appia
Antica one tomb
May hide a number of other tombs. In love, one reproach may hide another,
One small complaint may hide a great one.
One injustice may hide another—one colonial may hide another,
One blaring red uniform another, and another, a whole column. One bath
may hide another bath
As when, after bathing, one walks out into the rain.
One idea may hide another: Life is simple
Hide Life is incredibly complex, as in the prose of Gertrude Stein
One sentence hides another and is another as well. And in the laboratory
One invention may hide another invention,
One evening may hide another, one shadow, a nest of shadows.
One dark red, or one blue, or one purple—this is a painting
By someone after Matisse. One waits at the tracks until they pass,
These hidden doubles or, sometimes, likenesses. One identical twin
May hide the other. And there may be even more in there! The obstetrician
Gazes at the Valley of the Var. We used to live there, my wife and I, but
One life hid another life. And now she is gone and I am here.
A vivacious mother hides a gawky daughter. The daughter hides
Her own vivacious daughter in turn. They are in
A railway station and the daughter is holding a bag
Bigger than her mother's bag and successfully hides it.
In offering to pick up the daughter's bag one finds oneself confronted by
the mother's
And has to carry that one, too. So one hitchhiker
May deliberately hide another and one cup of coffee
Another, too, until one is over-excited. One love may hide another love
or the same love
As when "I love you" suddenly rings false and one discovers
The better love lingering behind, as when "I'm full of doubts"
Hides "I'm certain about something and it is that"
And one dream may hide another as is well known, always, too. In the
Garden of Eden
Adam and Eve may hide the real Adam and Eve.
Jerusalem may hide another Jerusalem.
When you come to something, stop to let it pass
So you can see what else is there. At home, no matter where,
Internal tracks pose dangers, too: one memory
Certainly hides another, that being what memory is all about,
The eternal reverse succession of contemplated entities. Reading
A Sentimental Journey look around
When you have finished, for Tristram Shandy, to see
If it is standing there, it should be, stronger
And more profound and theretofore hidden as Santa Maria Maggiore
May be hidden by similar churches inside Rome. One sidewalk
May hide another, as when you're asleep there, and
One song hide another song; a pounding upstairs
Hide the beating of drums. One friend may hide another, you sit at the
foot of a tree
With one and when you get up to leave there is another
Whom you'd have preferred to talk to all along. One teacher,
One doctor, one ecstasy, one illness, one woman, one man
May hide another. Pause to let the first one pass.
You think, Now it is safe to cross and you are hit by the next one. It
can be important
To have waited at least a moment to see what was already there.

From One Train, published by Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. Copyright © 1994 by Kenneth Koch. Reprinted with permission.

Right now as I am talking to you and as you are being talked
to, without letup, it is becoming clear that gertrude stein has
hijacked me and that this feeling that you are having now as
you read this, that this is what it feels like to be inside
gertrude stein. This is what it feels like to be a huge type-
writer in a dress. Yes, I feel we have gotten inside gertrude
stein, and of course it is dark inside the enormous gertrude, it
is like being locked up in a refrigerator lit only by a smiling
rind of cheese. Being inside gertrude is like being inside a
monument made of a cloud which is always moving across
the sky which is also always moving. Gertrude is a huge gal-
leon of cloud anchored to the ground by one small tether, yes,
I see it down there, do you see that tiny snail glued to the
tackboard of the landscape? That is alice. So, I am inside
gertrude; we belong to each other, she and I, and it is so won-
derful because I have always been a thin woman inside of
whom a big woman is screaming to get out, and she's out
now and if a river could type this is how it would sound, pure
and complicated and enormous. Now we are lilting across the
countryside, and we are talking, and if the wind could type it
would sound like this, ongoing and repetitious, abstracting
and stylizing everything, like our famous haircut painted by
Picasso. Because when you are inside our haircut you under-
stand that all the flotsam and jetsam of hairdo have been
cleared away (like the forests from the New World) so that the
skull can show through grinning and feasting on the alarm it
has created. I am now, alarmingly, inside gertrude's head and I
am thinking that I may only be a thought she has had when
she imagined that she and alice were dead and gone and
someone had to carry on the work of being gertrude stein, and
so I am receiving, from beyond the grave, radioactive isotopes
of her genius saying, take up my work, become gertrude stein.

Because someone must be gertrude stein, someone must save
us from the literalists and realists, and narratives of the
beginning and end, someone must be a river that can type.
And why not I? Gertrude is insisting on the fact that while I
am a subgenius, weighing one hundred five pounds, and living
in a small town with an enormous furry male husband who is
always in his Cadillac Eldorado driving off to sell something
to people who do not deserve the bad luck of this mer-
chandise in their lives--that these facts would not be a prob-
lem for gertrude stein. Gertrude and I feel that, for instance, in
Patriarchal Poetry when (like an avalanche that can type) she is
burying the patriarchy, still there persists a sense of con-
descending affection. So, while I'm a thin, heterosexual sub-
genius, nevertheless gertrude has chosen me as her tool, just
as she chose the patriarchy as a tool for ending the patriarchy.
And because I have become her tool, now, in a sense, gertrude
is inside me. It's tough. Having gertrude inside me is like
having swallowed an ocean liner that can type, and, while I
feel like a very small coat closet with a bear in it, gertrude and
I feel that I must tell you that gertrude does not care. She is
using me to get her message across, to say, I am lost, I am
beset by literalists and narratives of the beginning and middle
and end, help me. And so, yes, I say, yes, I am here, gertrude,
because we feel, gertrude and I, that there is real urgency in
our voice (like a sob that can type) and that things are very
bad for her because she is lost, beset by the literalists and
realists, her own enormousness crushing her and we must
find her and take her into ourselves, even though I am the
least likely of saviors and have been chosen perhaps as a last
resort, yes, definitely, gertrude is saying to me, you are the
least likely of saviors, you are my last choice and my last

From Then, Suddenly--, by Lynn Emanuel. Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press. 


A large box is handily made of what is necessary to replace any substance. Suppose an example is necessary, the plainer it is made the more reason there is for some outward recognition that there is a result.

A box is made sometimes and them to see to see to it neatly and to have the holes stopped up makes it necessary to use paper.

A custom which is necessary when a box is used and taken is that a large part of the time there are three which have different connections. The one is on the table. The two are on the table. The three are on the table. The one, one is the same length as is shown by the cover being longer. The other is different there is more cover that shows it. The other is different and that makes the corners have the same shade the eight are in singular arrangement to make four necessary.

Lax, to have corners, to be lighter than some weight, to indicate a wedding journey, to last brown and not curious, to be wealthy, cigarettes are established by length and by doubling.

Left open, to be left pounded, to be left closed, to be circulating in summer and winter, and sick color that is grey that is not dusty and red shows, to be sure cigarettes do measure an empty length sooner than a choice in color.

Winged, to be winged means that white is yellow and pieces pieces that are brown are dust color if dust is washed off, then it is choice that is to say it is fitting cigarettes sooner than paper.

An increase why is an increase idle, why is silver cloister, why is the spark brighter, if it is brighter is there any result, hardly more than ever.

From Tender Buttons (1914) by Gertrude Stein. This poem is in the public domain.