Poem In Which Words Have Been Left Out

Charles Jensen
        —The "Miranda Rights," established 1966


You have the right to remain
anything you can and will be.

An attorney you cannot afford
will be provided to you.

You have silent will.
You can be against law.
You cannot afford one.

You remain silent. Anything you say
will be provided to you.

The right can and will be
against you. The right provided you.

Have anything you say be 
right. Anything you say can be right.

Say you have the right attorney.
The right remain silent.

Be held. Court the one. Be provided.
You cannot be you.

More by Charles Jensen

Complaint of Isadora Duncan's Scarf

My only glory was in beauty,
how I reached from her slender neck
toward the sky, ravaged by wind

the way a rough lover handles
you: dizzying, powerful,
unpredictable, but with joy,

joy in touching you,
joy in seeing you disheveled. The cool
night air ran its lips on my silk skin

to make me dance. I danced,
long and lean, with perfect
extension and seamless flow.

I had no bones. Not one bit of me
was firm or harsh. I was air
itself. I was becoming

pure performance. I could
see the tire's eye watching me.
The car at the sidewalk with its

inflexible frame—it hated
my freedom, my lift, my flight.
The car, gravity's great love,

envied me. The wind, for a moment,
set me down with ballet grace.
I lit upon the cold steel spokes

striking out from the wheel
like the arms of great Kali. She
tangled me, and when the car

drove off the wheel pulled me
tighter. I wound around its neck
the only way a scarf knows how,

pulling my whole silk body
and everything that anchored me
into the mouth of never.

Complaint of Achilles' Heel

Everyone’s so quick to blame my
tenderness. My wound opening like a mouth
to kiss an arrow’s steel beak.

A beautiful man, now, plants his face
in Trojan sand while I tell
the secrets of his body—

make the ground red with truth.
Red with the death of Achilles, felled
by an arrow’s bite when nothing—

nothing—could puncture his Kevlar skin.
Everyone skips ahead to the moral: don’t
be a heel. For just one day I felt

sun where the chafing bonds of sandal
should have been. Without me, he’d be
just more fodder for the cannon.

I made him a hero, Troy’s poster
boy. Everyone forgets I was part of him,
I needed him—that even as he died,

I tasted each pulse—
that I could not hold back its rush of red
birds or the season to which they flew.

Related Poems

Archeology, p. 28

We must ask ourselves                         what purpose is
ultimately served by this                                 suspension of
all the accepted                                              unities
if, in the end, we return to                               the unities
that we pretended to question                at the outset.
        In fact,
the systemic erasure of                         all given unities
enables us first of all                                       to restore to
the statement                                                 the specificity
of its occurrence,                                  and to show
        that                                                       discontinuity
is one of those great                                       accidents
        that                                             create cracks

not only in the geology                          of history,
but also in the simple                                      fact
of the statement;

it emerges in its historical     irruption;
what we try to examine is     the incision

that it
makes, that
          irreducible—                                  and very often tiny
                                                      —emergence.
However banal it may be,
however unimportant its consequences may appear to be,
however quickly it may be forgotten after its appearance,
however little heard or however badly deciphered
                                                 we may suppose it to be,

a statement is always an event

that neither the language (langue) nor the meaning
                                                    can quite exhaust.
It is certainly a strange event:
first, because on the one hand
                                           it is linked to the gesture of
                                           writing or to the articulation of

speech,
            and also on the other hand
it opens up to itself a residual                                      existence
in the field of a memory, or in the materiality of            manuscripts,
books, or any other form of recording;
secondly, because, like every
event,

                        it is unique, yet subject to repetition, transformation, and reactivation;
thirdly, because it is linked not only to the situations that provoke it, and to the consequences
that it gives rise to, but at the same time, and in accordance with a quite different modality, to 
the statements that precede and
                                                                                      follow it.