Before Completion (title stolen from Arthur Sze)

The poem dangled at the edge of a canyon.

The sun was a pulsating blob of fire.


The poem, out of water, out of nowhere, in that landscape for years,

rested its completion at the edge.


Its head was half-rock, half-sky.

The primary colors?  Red and blue and orange.


Also, faint green weeds fluttered a few inches from the poem’s head:

far enough not to make a difference,


close enough to tease the poem into fits of irritation,

here, on the edge of its ultimate demise, rebirth. 


But there are numerous ways of peeling an onion;

knives, fingernails and hands will suffice, a choir


of ordinary things.  You end up holding the leaves

of this white, wet root, not sure where it came from,


and throw it into the fire all you want, it will transform

no matter what, wither away and disappear.  Meanwhile


the poems that wrote you in their sleep

languish in a sound-chamber of pathos.


Etcetera.  You have disappeared like that other thing,      

but no matter.  You can’t finish a damn poem.


Did the poem fall down the canyon, did the poem

stand up and walk out of the desert? 


Well, my friends, I will tell you.

It did neither: it grinned and bore it,


it smiled and laughed,

it bit its lip,


it cried and hiccupped,

and at the end it closed its eyes.

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