there is no room for rhetoric in a poem. – Tomas Transtromer
I’m thinking about all the trees that paper and pencils
used to be, and of the lost oxygen of their felling,
of ancient plants and animals now pumped up
as petroleum, and of the lost oxygen of their burning.
I’m thinking about my grandchildren,
none of them yet teenagers, and of how I won’t
need the oxygen in twenty years, but they will.
And I’m thinking of how Jerry died last night,
and of how I may die tonight or tomorrow
night, or some dark night nineteen years from now,
but I will die. Then neither I nor Jerry
will need the oxygen twenty years from now,
but they still will, my grandchildren.
And I’m thinking of how we poets have been writing
for centuries with wooden pencils on paper pulped
from trees, and where has it gotten any of us?
How many trees? How much lost oxygen?
And I’m thinking of how I’ll print this poem
on an electric printer, and drive somewhere
burning fossil fuels to recite it, and that all I’m giving back
is eight pathetic plants in this small apartment,
and my four grandchildren, who will have an oxygen deficit.
And Jerry died last night, and I will die someday,
but it won’t be from lack of oxygen, like my grandchildren,
and I can’t finish this poem. I’ve ruined it
because there’s no room for rhetoric and
I don’t know how to write without it anymore.
Jerry died last night, and I can’t finish this poem.
Ed Werstein - Milwaukee, Wi