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Phallic and Fallopia: A Language Tail

2009 November 1
by J. Scott Mosel

1136740_a_view_of_the_pastThey move quickly out of Manhattan

via the Holland Tunnel

into the desolation of eastern New Jersey:

abandoned factories, railroad tracks,

dying towns—stop to rest

where the light enters broken


They find Gealie’s still open for bad coffee,

unfiltered Lucky Strikes, stale donuts.

They move at night,

and by day huddle in dark

hollows and rub each other’s backs.

When in doubt, they follow

alpha markers: poets know they can rut

out of season and still exchange

syllables. Words are born along the way

and held in their arms

to be unraveled later,

if they find time.

They cross the Ohio on stolen barges,

and move into the lower hills

to find cover with the deer. They understand

the dangers involved: to cross fields

unseen. Occasionally a poet dies—

they leave a line or two in the soil

to mark time and place:

language and landscape blur

under the bleating sky,

and another stanza is left

in the unnameable spaces of language.

Later, they are seen herding west

out of western Arkansas into the lower

grasslands of Oklahoma.

From our helicopters, they look like

crawling Chinese letters—their black tags

give them away. We take them down

with dart guns. They breathe close

to the ground, like puddles

of moonlight: the skin

over their ribs stretches and glistens


Our task is easy: clip thumbs

tongues, index fingers. Some schools

of thought say we should

take their feet as well,

for they could scrawl the earth

with heels and toes.

Maybe it is pointless:

with six fingers left

they could still press thoughts

into flesh. Maybe

the wind and rain

will wash away what we call

rutting, but for now,

the only language left

will be our own.

One Response leave one →
  1. pegmosel permalink
    November 11, 2009

    Scott, Another creative,entertaining poem. The story continues out of that creative Grandpa given mind.

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