Words

Words of commerce
come easy, go
into my out box
like automatic writing,
mindless
and efficient
as marching ants.
I count the dollars
and go home
without saying goodnight.

My own words are lost,
hide from daylight
like cockroaches.
Pouring a moonlit glass
of water they appear,
antennae quivering,
sketch frantic patterns
then vanish, tracing
shapes like letters
from a foreign tongue.

Through the window
I glimpse thoughts
formed to words,
pale letters glowing.
I step out, fall in
with a crowd, speechless
and funeral solemn
behind a band.
Street signs march past
faint and unspoken.

The dirge falters
in a confusion
of wrong notes
and stops.
This corner has
no sign. We search
the city of memory
for the lost song.
Looking for a cigarette
I find this pencil.

This poems went through several revisions, prompted in part by the very helpful folks over at Splashhall Poetry. This is the best so far (in my opinion; no comments over at Splashhall yet). There is the last revision before this in the comments.

4 comments:

tumblewords said...

I wonder if I'd recognize the setting without the clue and after reading this several times, I think I would. New Orleans is special!

Mark Folse said...

Ok, I'm going with the last version posted, and putting the original four stanza revision here.

Words of commerce
come easy, go
into my out box
like automatic writing,
mindless
and efficient
as marching ants.
I count the dollars
and go home
without saying goodnight.

My own words are lost,
hide from daylight
like cockroaches.
Pouring a moonlit glass
of water they appear,
antennae quivering,
sketch frantic patterns
then vanish, tracing
shapes like letters
from a foreign tongue.

Through the window
I glimpse thoughts
formed to words,
pale letters glowing.
I step out, fall in
with a crowd, speechless
and funeral solemn
behind a band.
Street signs march past
faint and unspoken.

The dirge falters
in a confusion
of wrong notes
and stops.
Lost and uncertain,
we spread out, search
the city of memory
for the lost song.
Looking for a cigarette
I find this pencil.

Mark Folse said...

Here is a prior revision, taking out much matter. I wasn't as satisfied with this.
Words of commerce
come easy, go
into my out box
like automatic writing,
mindless
and efficient
as marching ants.
I count the dollars
and go home
without saying goodnight.

My own words are lost,
hide from daylight
like cockroaches.
Pouring a moonlit
glass of water they appear,
antennae quivering,
their frantic paths
trace letters
from a foreign tongue,
then vanish.

Looking for a cigarette
I find this pencil.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love the second stanza, very vivid and unexpected