Beyond The Pale

Terrible Comfortable Silence (for Jonathan)

Terrible Comfortable Silence

A beautiful conceit
But that’s just telling, isn’t it?

What do you think your

(absent, imagined, clockwork god)

reader is going to get from that?

We sit on the balcony

slipping from Guinness

to Blue Ribbon as our taste for, well

taste, fades to the taste for, well,


Is this painting working for you?

If you have lived a paucity of human

experience, it might! Show, don’t tell.

Maybe we shouldn’t show either.

Then we can be blind as well as deaf.

Let the rules go.

Is wayside still a word?

When was its last use?

How about the gutter? I’m sure that one

still has collateral (can we agree on this symbol?)

The old style gutter, you know the type,

where rain might collect in the spring, but

shit gets dumped morning and night.

Put your rules there.

And climbing back out

—phew, your shoes stink!—

you’ll have to pinch your nose to taste

a depth of human connectedness that

really does happen.

To say you’ll never really know or be known

is to take comfort, to own

self imposed

isolation in a lie.

Your argumental proof

(Rant at me now!)

these labels (we’re back on the beer,

but if that offends,

pretend we’re talking about billboards)

have reified us these

experiences made for projection.

I don’t think I’ve seen this poem,

those two lines offer lax control of language

in the service of beauty

(which is really a greater

control, one based on

love rather than law,

isn’t it?)

We (who?) prefer linguistic legalism

gilding tombs full of

bones (of course!), the ghosts of experience—

where the garden of life lived used be.

Or is it cliché to borrow Christian imagery

in this post-Christian now?

His conflation of physical contact with

emotional intimacy digs down to the

very core of this brief, intolerably long

human experience, and it’s vibrantly ghastly too!

(that’s three impossibilities we’ve lived now)

I caught that.

Did you?

When the are no absolutes,

the guides become rules become sacrosanct.

Let’s try another image.

Maybe we shouldn’t have cut that anchor loose.


September 19, 2010 - Posted by | Poems


  1. Stupid WordPress. I can’t get the formatting fixed on this thing.

    Comment by davidjgross | September 19, 2010 | Reply

  2. I’m glad to come here tonight and read this poem. It’s especially relieving for me. I keep finding myself very solitary as a reader and writer at my school in a supposed community of writers. A community I keep finding myself not wanting to be a real part of. How is it that I keep discovering myself not desiring to be part of communities I first think may be worthwhile by which to be accepted or included?

    I really like that this is the line you chose to kick off and write from. More and more I don’t care about being published. Or read. I don’t know. Read by you, sure. Read by some, sure. At times I want to be read by more. So yes, okay, to be published may be fine, and yes, to be read. But to talk about it with most or to be a part of some general exclusive community that despite its pretension toward outsides still embodies a deep quality of spiritual poverty and impotence? These days, and all others, that’s just not enough. I don’t find readers I can connect with. I don’t find writers I can connect with. This is turning into an email. I’ll just go write you one. In the meantime, for a comment appropriate to this medium, please write more on here when you can.

    Comment by wordorgy | November 23, 2010 | Reply

  3. I can only grasp at pieces of this poem. Some things are understood and familiar, but some is too veiled… I’m too prosaic to figure it out.

    I did have a thought about one piece:
    “Or is it cliché to borrow Christian imagery

    in this post-Christian now?”
    Can it be otherwise, is it possible for the post Christian to not borrow?

    I like the logical progression of

    “When the are no absolutes,

    the guides become rules become sacrosanct.

    Let’s try another image.

    Maybe we shouldn’t have cut that anchor loose.”

    I think you caught modern man’s conundrum in that.
    Anyway, perhaps you are using the visual editor in WP. Switch to the html to format differently. Or vice versa.

    Comment by Ilona | November 23, 2010 | Reply

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