Reading after Reading John Ashbery
I know these words, most of them,
at least laid them down in orders not like
this syntax without cartography – like the braille
dance of the 20/20 when the substation blows,
the house a sudden obsidian land, and
I discover I hadn't gotten memorized
the surface, length or depth
of all these walls. Mother said, when in doubt
sound it out: i before e and something
about two vowels walking, the first talking.
But this? I'm kept after, while you,
you I can see through the window
volleying with trees in the schoolyard.
The teacher, dagger eyes and spearhead nails,
slides the paper across the desk to me,
saying: How much of this work is really yours?
Rodd Whelpley is the secret poet in residence at the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency, where he also runs an electric efficiency program for 33 cities in the state. His poetry is forthcoming in Tinderbox, Spillway and Eunoia Review and has recently been published in such magazines as The Bitchin' Kitsch, One Sentence Poems, Aethlon, Allegro, Antiphon, The Chagrin River Review and Long Dumb Voices. His novel, Capital Murder, appeared in 2001 and disappeared shortly thereafter. Early in the epoch of the disk operating system, he received an MA in creative writing from Miami University.