The Word is Yours – Part 2

a collection of poems by: Chris Campanioni

The second installment of “The Word is Yours” pledges allegiance to movement, to rhythm, to words interacting with words….

Work It Over

Moon rises in the rear
View mirror, white
As white
Paper, blank space

A window frame
Any opening through
Which to see

Unfolding. Come a little
Closer, honey
Sliding down a jar
My sentence

Hastens like applause
Burning down
Ask me anything

Work it over
Baskets, twigs and branches

Day after day
I have to do this sitting
I have to do this

With the door shut
And the volume turned up
Any musical phrase
Swallowed slow

Borne in burlap
Evening ornamentals
Come a little closer
A trick of the light

A trick of the eyes
And you’re never looking
Troubling water
Tumbling verbs

Sometimes you have to shout
You need to spit out
Each word

Brushed off like wind
Like dirt on a coffin
Breath tightening
My own collar

I scream myself
¿Te acuerdas?
Serial inquiries

(So much left unsaid)
Ask me anything
Turn the other cheek
Any opening through

Which to see
Shrinking limbs
Black spots under
Eyes, the space between

Each eyelid, the way
A mirror remembers water
Or forgets
To ever blink


I am the speaker in the poem.
I call attention to the meaning
of form, informed by my ancestry,
not just lines but their lineage;
substance as source.
I don’t want to hide behind
language – body
or otherwise – and besides,
it all comes back at intercourse.

I want to lay it on the table –
no that’s not right –
I want to lay it on,
simple and concise,
I want to lay with you and melt
right in, oozing with spermicide
and the milk of human kindness
like Ishmael would have liked, even
like Modern English:
I’ll stop the world
and melt with you
I want to paint the walls read
from the Sanskrit râdhnoti.
I want to confuse my verbs and my adjectives
until they become indistinguishable.

I pledge allegiance
to movement, to rhythm
to words interacting
with words, word
play, the play within
the play: All the words
a stage and most of all, poetry.
I feel the same thing Sophocles
on a darkling plain felt, differently.
I want to ascertain the whole range
of human understanding, lost
or longing by definition,
necessary yearning.

Call me languished
from languor, from the Latin languêre.
See also: fade, waste, wilt, wither, go,
as in to move, or proceed, especially
to or from something.
See also: volta,
a turn, from the Latin
verso. No resolution
resonant as a shift
in tone or mood. Haven’t you
ever heard from your
It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it?
I forgot the sun,
too, the way sometimes glare
obscures the truth.

And the you that I am invoking is not you
but me, the you that I am
invoking isn’t the reader
Whitman would have loved to meet
months or years later, just me the way you
sometimes ask yourself
God, what have you done?
and forget you are looking inwardly.
Language is a tricky thing.

My mother speaks in contradictions
She says Yeah, followed by No
when she really means, Yes sometimes, even
Certainly. In the art of creation,
as in all the arts,
the soul should be felt
in the face and the fingers
and the tongue, even
in the cavities,
from the Latin, cave
and cavare: to excavate.

People live on in other people’s memories.
I read that looking at old photographs
is another form of time travel.
My mother’s childhood
is also her child’s.


A Passing Thunderstorm

It rained all day, water
Marked calves, wet ankles

Soles of the foot

From planta, more at
Place, dislocated

Sliced thin

Oil rising
A Jack, a Queen

Playing cards
Strewn on the countertop

What goes around
Comes around

You’re trying too hard
Knee to Knee

I remember your damp hair
I remember the way your skin felt

Viscid, burning
A passing thunderstorm

It rained all day
And kept coming

I would have told you

in my father’s house there are many
mansions. I remember the passion
of adolescence, bodies
of water, rhythmic slapping
during rain, before/after, over
hill and dale and lake
panting rush of skin.

Let me start again. I ran
that sentence into the ground so
to speak. Speak loudly,
and never be afraid
to go out on a limb –
my mother’s words, my father’s –
Man’s sin, there are many, many….

a paper flower dropped in a cup of water
succored with yellow petals
glistened with spit.


Curtain Call

I’m twenty-nine
All my hair
In all the right places

I’m a knockout
I’ve got stamina, a little bit

I’m like Little Mac

On the Waterfront
Articulate and two-bit

Plus six more

Dedicated, very often
On edge

And spread thin
I’m up and coming
I’m under the gun

I’m coming on strong
Sometimes reluctant
To be myself

Sometimes silent
Ocular, mistakenly
Orphic, reduced

To poses, a role I know
By heart, blind
Folded, my eyes are tired

My head is loose
How I’d announce
My exit

When I was five
A courting call
Length of a single page

Put my head in your hands
And make a wish
If it doesn’t work

Blow on it
Blow on it
Blow on it

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