It is said that
a picture is worth a thousand words,
a pictograph usually
five or fewer, and
a word, but a single one
by definition, while
a word, with two exceptions,
has at least two letters,
and with the same
two exceptions, a letter
is always wordless
but can be symbolic.
The Hawaiian language
has only fourteen letters
which may explain why
native Hawaiians are
rarely wordy, but
fails utterly to account
for their deep love
I would reach out
in touch you
but as it is
reach the keyboard.
I would take
the next time
I see you, but
it would appear
instantly, no waiting
for someone to tell me
as you were merely
a blurred image
appearing days later
pulled from an envelope.
Perhaps I’ll leave
a posting on your
and simply hope
you are still alive
out of reach.
She says if you could only
peel back the photograph, you could
read the entire story that lies beneath.
Is deeper than the image below which
it lies trapped, and the wider, imbued with a meeting
the image could not capture, just as,
she says frowning, there are no words
for parts of the picture, a symbiosis
that we of unitary senses cannot unite.
This one, pointing to a crucifix, shows him
where he ought to be, the pain, his pain
apparent, but so much deeper than
any image or sculptors hand can fashion.
Undeserved pain, not by sacrileges, by rebellion
but he would understand it, he would
revel in it, for he was the greatest rebel
and he would easily peel back the picture
in step wholly into the story beneath.
In deeply hidden corners
of my memory
snapshots of my childhood reappear
from forgotten albums.
I want to know what
was happening just
out of frame, or
in the next picture in the series
but these negatives are lost
and so I am left
to draw my own pictures,
write my own story,
and accept it as truth.
René Magritte was born and died
in Belgium, neither happened
on this day, but he painted
a most realistic picture of a pipe,
which he captioned “Ceci N’est Pas
Une Pipe,” which of course it was not
since it was only a picture of a pipe
and he entitled the work
The Treachery of Images.
This brings to mind a question:
if I say, Ceci est une poeme,
is that true, or am I engaging
in a mere treachery of words?
Draw me a picture of your answer,
if you would be so kind.
It’s odd how your stature
has grown as I dream of you
occasionally staring at
your yearbook picture.
It was only four years ago
that I knew you existed, but
hadn’t the faintest idea of who
you were, anything about your life,
why you gave me up, and, therefore
who it was I might have been.
Now you are a selfless icon, caring
more for siblings who needed education,
at the immediate cost of your own,
a child who needed two parents
in a world that frowned deeply
on anything less than a pair.
Someday soon, I will visit your grave,
place a small stone upon your stone,
and a kiss, the closest
I can ever hope, ever dream
to coming to the face of my mother.
Day one, and they are hunched
over the mat meticulously drawing
faintly on its deep blue surface.
Day two and sitting, leaning forward
they precisely place
the first grains of sand.
Day three, the same
and the picture begins to emerge
though they dare not breathe.
Day upon day, minute upon minute
hours on end they place the sand
until the almost electric mandala
rises off the mat, and even we
can imagine Buddha’s home,
only wishing we could enter
any of its four gates
and find the compassion within.
Today, day six it is done,
and they gently sweep
all the sand and carry it
to the river where its blessing
may go wherever the river
carries it, and we bid it
a sad and joyous farewell.