You are in the diode archives diode v7n1



No Take-Backs

Inside this box
is not just anything,
but a singing spark

of lemon rind.
The smallest unit
of bitterness.

What almost
hurts is gone.
You owe me.

I’ve left the pale
graduates feeding
their copy cats

Latinate consommé,
the girl dressed
only in cursive.

For you. For this
old attribution:
the imperfect

listener, whom
I love like I love
beginnings: the pod

of pronouns
darting through
the kelp beds,

or the uncertain dusk
in the field
as lightning bugs—

name of Lampyridae
choose to be
skidding or implicit.

I don’t want you
to get the idea
that I’m not in

this poem—I can
lower my voice,
I can repeat myself.

I can tell you
I hate anaphora
and its lexical dignity

of being late Greek,
meaning to carry
or branch.

Are you still with me?
It’s lonely watching
over my tanker,

feeling the weight
of all that ambrosia,
ichor, ether,

and crude—the body
parsed into oils
and punctuation.

Look: we’re aloft,
held up—for
however long—

by this span of grammar
and the diminished if
in every beat.


A Note on the Type

This stanza is dead
on the page. A small
blue vase on a dock

on the Isle of Hydra
killed it. A modifier
split it down

the middle with one
touch—and now
we have Mercury’s

shin splints, a half-
hearted encephalogram,
and 693 lackluster

boys eating dirt. Any one
of these would have
been unmanageable.

Let us read Bembo,
Gaudy, Aldonza,
and Light Fortini

over its grave: carefully
shaded fonts wired
by an unemployed

electrician in Brighton
who collects stairwells.
The trope gives off

a deprecating odor
of glue, and if we listen
hard we hear a horse

thrashing in the light
breeze of plot. No dice.
No matter what they say

in the universities,
this coffin and its tiny,
scribbled universe

cannot be used
by the willing
as a flotation device.  


Simeon Berry lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he serves on the Board of Directors for Salamander.  He has been an Associate Editor for Ploughshares, and has won a Massachusetts Cultural Council Individual Artist Grant and a Career Chapter Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters. Recent work appears in Hotel Amerika, Western Humanities Review, Gulf Coast, and American Letters & Commentary.  In 2013, his manuscript Ampersand Revisited was selected by Ariana Reines for The National Poetry Series, and will be published by Fence Books in 2014.