like a poem

I remember when they taught us about metaphor.

First they addressed simile: it was like
when I say to you now that this
is like a poem. Then came metaphor:
it’s like simile, but you leave out
the “like” and the comparison
becomes implicit. It’s a trick, you see,
one of the greasy tools
in the poet’s tattered bag.

With great and attentive care
they were teaching us
to hate poetry.

I didn’t know then
that it’s all metaphor

that the words on the page
are metaphor
for the things they strive
to mean, and the letters
that make up the words are
metaphor for the sounds we make,
the sounds themselves, metaphor
for the call of a jay
the swish of water.

I didn’t know
that the American male’s trained
hatred of poetry
is metaphor for our fear
of the Unconscious
and all the subversive things
that lurk there.

I didn’t know then
that your body
is metaphor for you
and you are metaphor
for the thing you become
at night when you go up
into the attic and climb
the rooftree to step out
onto some passing cloud
in the gray wind.

That all of it is metaphor
for something that happens
somewhere else where everything
is real, and clear and simple;
where every thing
has a meaning
all its own.


Filed under poetry

4 responses to “like a poem

  1. matangmanok

    Hi Nick,

    I have to be honest, it took me a few reads before feeling comfortable enough to say anything about this poem. And yes, I like its serious playfulness (didn’t think that was possible), the unpredictable direction though known destination (again, didn’t think that was possible!).

    Yes, I enjoyed reading this again and again.

  2. Nick! I like this poem a lot! Thanks for sharing it.

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