This Poem Will Not Harm You – June 9, 2010

Posted: June 10, 2010 in Samples of My Writing

Here is a poem from my book, Outlasting the Landscape, published in 1989 by Thistledown Press. It is out of print now but this poem is also found in Wrapped Within Again published in 2003 by Black Moss Press and is still available from their website or I wrote this poem in 1984 and is a response to the poem: This Poem Leaves No Survivors in my first book of poems. An old poem now but hope it holds up.

This Poem Will Not Harm You

It contains only gentle words.
There are not death squads
waiting to claim you between
the syllables. The sounds of
explosions and death are faint
and belong to someone else’s
composition. You can travel
safely here. It is quiet; rest
between the despair and loss.
Flowers grow carefully in this
poem. Their scents linger
through the rhythm of the
words. Turn each page lightly.
Surrender only as your tongue
imagines its taste. This poem
conquers nothing. Attacks
nothing. It shrinks from
aggression, from arguments,
jagged voices. Turn the page
lightly. Streets in this poem
are filled with music. Even the
dead are light; floating
without the familiar failure
of the grave. Turn the page
lightly. When you finish this
poem, sleep; think only of gods
and what you would like to ask
them. This poem holds no claim
on you, but release it gently.
Others have been tortured for
such thoughts. This poem doesn’t care
about the colour of your skin or what
personal atrocities you have witnessed.
Release it gently. It belongs to
you now. There is one final image.
Read it aloud.
One letter at a time.


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