Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


On the Persistence of the Letter as a Form

Dear murderous world, dear gawking heart,
I never wrote back to you, not one word

wrenched itself free of my fog-draped mind
to dab in ink the day's dull catalog

of ruin. Take back the ten-speed bike
which bent like a child's cheap toy

beneath me. Accept as your own
the guitar that was smashed over my brother,

who writes now from jail in Savannah,
who I cannot begin to answer. Here

is the beloved pet who died at my feet 
and there, outside my window,

is where my mother buried it in a coffin
meant for a newborn. Upon

my family, raw and vigilant, visit numbness.
Of numbness I know enough.

And to you I've now written too much,
dear cloud of thalidomide,

dear spoon trembling at the mouth,
dear marble-eyed doll never answering back.

Credit


From The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World by Paul Guest. Copyright © 2003 by Paul Guest. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press. All rights reserved.

Author


Paul Guest

Paul Guest is the author of Because Everything Is Terrible (Diode Editions, 2018).

Date Published: 2003-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/persistence-letter-form