definitions (the greeting)
My brother roars, bound in substance. (Language, silks and coffee beans.) Thank God, language's radio; hours each day, the page's autobahn. The sentence's commuters.
Science fiction, brilliant vivisections: language's ideal laboratory conditions. (Harlequin's 43rd Theorum: Ideas oxen wearing pearls.) Stuck in language's jam; blinking out, the rain's silence.
Ideas, often just the circumstances words find themselves in. Beggaring belief: the poet writing emptyhanded. Commas, look, hummingbirds in appletrees.
The page's mirror; I knew it was snowing! (But can you say that again?) A run on the pound of words. All meanings incidental, occupational hazards.
Keeping Others waiting; on the pot of words. (The stonecutting silence.) The child's mistake; this silence I can hear the evening. Willows grave in suave rain.
The Kleenex page; the pull of language, meanings spurting. (Meaning's shabby gentility.) Thought's horizons; the rockinghorse mind. Translating the azalea's communiqué.
The bright spume of words. (The beached wind. The billowing day.) Meaning's desperate overcrowding; no room can hold the associations it contains. By definition? Her singing reaching you from another room.
Meaning's inundated plains. (Language just the sign outside the Tavern.) The mindforged signature. Attending the sea's hearings.
Authors like motives, necessary fictions. (Hurrying to work; the rainy page.) Distant expression: prose's grainy, black-and-white photographs, grammarschool children, 1868.
Meaning's surf, the booming economy of language. (Her voice her favourite café, somewhere she loves to go to read.) Lacking a certain absence of mind.
Silence broadcast live on air, crackling slightly in the trees. (Words redefined, beautiful paperweights.) Language's stables, jobs for life; everyone grooming the King's white horse.
Words' snail's-pace: trail of galaxies. (Birds vaguely in trees. Black lace...) Poetry's litter; unwrapping the park from these shadows. Panic, not even sure of the street; which house is the rain in?
The poet's despair; snow's cotton in these fields. (Language's enclosure, space in a pen.) The hungry children mocked; bright flowers everywhere. Lines tangled in the stream.
My tangled mind? (The page's scarf, caught in the branches.) Mindlessly watching the whitecaps of thought. Meaning's imposing entrance, the Ministry of Truth.
Language's Black Maria. (A windy silence in the trees.) Stationed everywhere: language, a woman alone on a platform. Teacher's entrance; the murmuring page falling silent.
Words meeting in passageways, under watchful eyes. (Identity's ring of guards: you have to snow to get into these woods.) Poetry's cover-up: the Fisherman burying his lines in the snow.
Writers? Prison barbers, this beautiful black hair. (The stately homes of prose.) Language's hyphen. Expression's key to freedom? The unlocked silence. Meaning's locket round my neck.
Language's ribbon: taking forever, untying the page. (My mother's black shawl in the snow.) Prisoners living in dreamt-of conditions. Language keeping you warm? Snow every time you put the shawl on.
His slender shadow, flicking the ash of evening. (Thick fog in winter fields; the steady caw of silence.) Roses stiffly sumptuous, barked out like an order by the vase. Descartes correcting his proof: I think therefore I visit mist-filled fields.
Faced with such injustice, despairing of language's official channels. (The quashed appeal of poetry; but still, the hills soft in quiet rain.) The prisoners constantly reassured by the authorities: broadcast live, the quiet rain on the green.
Reading; peering into dark porches. (A windless dusk in Oregon.) All ideas convictions, reasons you're inside. Such enormous white rooms; who wouldn't collect art?
Cool evening, flute of silence; deer appear in the softening light. (The deep frieze of language.) Blank page, the illuminated manuscript. Final breath misting the page.
People talking, televisions on in empty rooms. (Thought, sometimes, the brightness and noise of the tide.) Expensive views: thought's penthouse, the mirrors' windows.
The hegemony of thought. (Grammar's vast cosmetic industry.) Growing up in the huge house: flying a kite in the hall.
Her shoulders, only bare in this black dress. (The soiled page.) Words humming, rim of the wineglass. Silence, rain turning to snow on the hills.
Gazing in the mirror; fastening reflection's necklace. (The sea outside and here I am, stuck on the john of thought!) Scroll held up the Buddha: language's detail, shrub by a bridge.
Thought just a look: familiar, tired expression. (Thinking about my life: Kate so slender, by the sea.) Thought's futile resistance, fielding candidates against itself.
Piecing together a picture of the page: white sky, a marketsquare, women wearing black. (Slavegirl reading, learning to skip with her shadow.) Poetry, weighing the impossible moment: bright circles on the water, the thrown pebble in the hand.
Putting aside thought's embroidery. (The dead gather, blinking at roses.) The Big Guns of prose: the unrecognisable fields. The rigorous poses of grammar: bundles of old photographs, set out next to medals at fairs.
The world camped in the page's field. (The wordchurned mind.) The rain behind the lines. Learning to read, the child screaming, something under the page's snow.
Inside the house? Thought's cicada. (Language's blackout; how will we know the war's over?) Charcoal sketches of the ocean: poetry, sometimes, the silence the waves make.
Poets slowly digging silence: the starry darkness piling up. (Thought's carriage; limetrees in the rain.) Moon on the water; looking up from the page.
Desperate for tales of freedom; recapturing the author after a fierce struggle. (Consciousness, the bored housewife.) Gold in the stream somewhere? Panning the page.
The author sleeping, the room full of butterflies. (The Island famous for its breeze.) The poisoned stream, the unreflecting mind: the moon and stars, black water. Language's painted acacias: smash the vase, breeze everywhere.
Words words words, ghostshit everywhere! (Afterpoem; fresh air, the page left open.) Stretching a point: the taut white page. The mirror in spate.
Trying to get a picture on the old black-and-white set. (Just imagine? Writing paper...) Prose, a unicorn with syphilis! Reason's magnificent dangler.
Visiting language's musty rooms, trying to open the mirror… (Silence, child's play: left alone in the huge house.) The perfumed asshole of prose.
Children left speechless; don't talk to strangers. (Not opium: wanting poppies.) The page's lightning: isolated farmsteads, the vast fields. Is that rubbish on again? Language, The Little House on the Prairie.
The beggar cursing the poet; rosepetals in the bowl. (Nectar from the shadow of roses.) Every page: Mary moving quietly around in the dark. Reasons, scaffolding in wheatfields. Nowhere to buy these apples; starving to death in the orchard.
The lightsource page; Jesus, words the writer's block! (The muezzin silence.) Even Arabic, a fabulous carpet hung in front of the moon. The billowing page: Arabic raising its sails. (Deer in the room, eating poetry's beautiful curtains!)
The campaign to demobilise language. (Prose, the Muses wearing their hair up.) In the end, just distracted by words; through the trees, Seymour walking around in the snow. Jesus in a muffler, setting out for the woods.
Of course I write poetry, she said; don't you take your sandals off on the beach? (Breeze in the grove, the women talking.) Poetry's Language-Silence Dictionary.
Globalisation; thought's hard currency, vast single market. (Kate's badly bruised shadow.) Complicity the key to the Occupation; everyone maintaining language's uneasy silence. Keeping your room as it was when you died.
The centre of Rome; language's beautiful moor. (Language's call-up papers.) School defining all your terms. The world? Science's keyring. Commas? Shorebirds nesting in the cliff.
What do you mean, so what? Grasping the key; standing in the middle of the forest. (Yes, the views amazing; Language's Empire State.) The drowning mind; banking on reflections. Staying in the mirror's guesthouse.
Consciousness, trying to reach yourself when you're at a meeting. (The strange girl, her gaze in tatters.) Thought's boarders, everyone's old school ties. How can you indict language?
Lost in a book, Upstairs in her room; the little girl looking for her brother in the woods. (A man's world? Language's barracks.) After all that, music just the guitar?
Language's logo. (These tattoos the only butterflies left?) Poetry's appeal for help, photographs of missing children. Smuggling the cove inland? Language a severe disanointment.
Poetic archaeology, unearthing the page. (Excavating the breeze.) The vase made from its fragments. The footpath through the wheatfield; finding this black ribbon every time. Staggering prose; back from language's public house, moonlight drifting in the lanes.
Poetry's best words can hope for: catching a glimpse of the coast through the trees. (Building the nest from the shadows of birds.) Language's grim fascination, the dark house at the end of the garden.
The world in pieces; puzzled by language's instructions. Silence's camouflage, the black-and-white backs of these butterfly wings.) Poetry's child's-play, origami; making the most of the instructions.
Losing track of the page? Following the deer's shadow through the snow. (Thought, the house as honoured guest.) The page's mosque; words lined up neatly outside.
The page's one-way mirror. (Thought, the Pope's countless divisions.) Finding the page's robe in the woods. The compulsion to write; the outside chance, meeting you here. The rain all that's left of the field.
Tales of the bright river; the village crossing to the storyteller's hut. (The page, Circe's side of the story.) The shawled page. Lost in the woods; cursing language's A-Z. Untelling her story; white, empty beaches, Circe sleeping on the sand.
Sick of the sight? The page's white door to the beach. (Vague rumours reaching the hypnotized.) Language blindfolding the page? Marvelling at the sound of the ocean. Stranded between the mirror and the room.
Wordplay; happily splashing around in the mirror. Deep, tired lines; prose masking the page.
Language's swing of things; hypnotizing your reflection. (Hurriedly dressing; the mirror's gaze.) The mind's vast, colonial residence; the Governor staring out of every window. Child at the window, releasing origami birds.
The joke on us; language's gag. (The driftwood waves.) Reason's pledge: the Princes safely in The Tower. Prisoners pacing themselves. Paperboat stowaways.
Language taken unawares: thoughtlessly seeing through the blindfold. (What's your guess? The pagemist lifting…) Dazzled by the page, peeking through the blindfold. Language's outlines, the woman in the shower.
Driftwood page, the moon's reflection washed ashore. (City traffic; hearing yourself think.) Carrying the page's photograph everywhere. Who? Kitty staring at the quiet grey sea.
Last I saw; thought dragging the child through its crowd. (Newton lost in the snow's equations.) Constantly pulling language's strings; imagine the panic, the doll speaking for herself!
Cultivated prison look; cell chic, language's close shave. (The other side of the page?) Resurrection: the poet's unbelievable faith in words, the breeze finally moving the stone. The tiny part of the jail where they keep the prisoners.
:: bio ::
Sean Howard moved to Nova Scotia from the UK in late 1999, and is now a permanent Canadian resident. From 1987 to 2000, he had short stories and poetry published in a number of British magazines, including Acclaim, The New Writer, Writer's Monthly, Envoi, Haiku Poetry Quarterly, and Poetry Nottingham International. In Canada, Howard has had poetry published in Another Toronto Quarterly (Spring 2002, http://www.anothertorontoquarterly.com/spring2002/sean.html).
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