Things you know but can’t say,
the sort of things, or propositions
that build up week after week at the end of the day,
& have to be dredged
by the practical operators so that their grosser cargo
& barges & boxy schedules can stay.
The great shovels and beaks and the rolling gantries
of Long Beach, and of Elizabeth, New Jersey,
can keep their high and rigorous distinction
between on-time and late, between work and play.
“Since you excluded me, I will represent you,
not meanly but generously, with an attention
that is itself
a revenge, since it shows that I know you
better than you have ever known yourselves,
that if I could never have learned
how to be you, nor how to be
somebody you’d like to be very near, nevertheless
you could not do without me, or keep me away.”
Copyright © 2015 by Stephen Burt. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 15, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.