Paul Violi - 1944-2011
Appeal to the Grammarians
We, the naturally hopeful, Need a simple sign For the myriad ways we're capsized. We who love precise language Need a finer way to convey Disappointment and perplexity. For speechlessness and all its inflections, For up-ended expectations, For every time we're ambushed By trivial or stupefying irony, For pure incredulity, we need The inverted exclamation point. For the dropped smile, the limp handshake, For whoever has just unwrapped a dumb gift Or taken the first sip of a flat beer, Or felt love or pond ice Give way underfoot, we deserve it. We need it for the air pocket, the scratch shot, The child whose ball doesn't bounce back, The flat tire at journey's outset, The odyssey that ends up in Weehawken. But mainly because I need it—here and now As I sit outside the Caffe Reggio Staring at my espresso and cannoli After this middle-aged couple Came strolling by and he suddenly Veered and sneezed all over my table And she said to him, "See, that's why I don't like to eat outside."