Monday, May 19, 2008

Just for Fun

I write all kinds of things, so I thought I would follow Usman's lead and share a poem. This one is a "prose poem" (no real line breaks) about writing. The illustration is from my friend Sara (


The old man they called The Hand wrote on everything: every single thing that could take a mark of red ink, black ink, paints and dyes of all hues, blueberry juice, manure, semen, urine, shit, a spittle soaked finger, the scratching of rocks, worn arrowheads, large sticks, uncut fingernails, hoes and rakes, or discarded sewing needles, to name a very few. Mosaic letters of colored rocks traced across the grass. Thatch roofs were rewoven during the night: a “d”, an “a”, a “w”, and “n” all facing the East. The roofs leaked letters on the rooms below.

The Hand wrote philosophy and poetry—classical, modern, and impromptu. He scrabbled aphorisms, curses, dire predictions, proper names of people and places historical, mythological, and fantastical. He wrote shopping lists on front doors and committee agendas on windows: “Meeting at 8:30am, light breakfast will be served. 10:00am: team building time.” He wrote “Suddenly there’s bears!” down the mid-wife’s stairs. Small children learned to read from the windows and walls. Our village lost its name below the surface of it all.

The old man wrote on cobbled chimneys, outhouses inside and out, rocks, stones, pebbles, pots, pans, small unattended children, and animals too slow or dull witted to avoid his grasping hands. He loved to write curse words on captured migrating birds.

It goes without saying he tattooed his own skin: every inch he could reach with the complete text of Dr. Zhivago. Or so he says. I have never read it. The blank spot on his back he labeled “winter.”

He sometimes wrote on paper and occasionally with pens. He folded these neatly into swans and dragons and flowers and then ate them, usually.

In time, he tattooed our bodies as well: head to toe with our names, important events, undying loves, former undying loves, and downright dead ones. He gave us spells to ward away gout, eczemas, boils, and the common cold.

Hide and seek is not a game our children play—it is our daily life as graffiti bodies wander through painted rooms out into our painted streets.

He wrote himself into our lives for uncounted years until he died. We found his cold lettered body by smell, leaning patiently against the lettered well.

His lettered bones lie there still.


  1. Since I can't write good poems, I write silly ones. Heh.

  2. You seem like very careful observer of the old man who wrote on your body........ May be he is not dead. They way you are careful observer, you might find him alive. Will you be scared, if you find that the man did not die, he is still alive. He is seeing you how you feel and do thinking him dead? If you find him will you ask him any question? What will you ask?

  3. No one can be dead as long as their work survives, right?