"The Familiar Becomes Extreme"

Jon Thompson




The familiar becomes extreme:

            I'm calling & calling with no reply

(invoking the silences in song)--

            days lose their dailyness, or

 have too much of it, the losses happen

            without redress; what, then, is there left to depend on?

It's not that there aren't names for things. But the things. Terror

            of "the true," lineaments of virtue.











It's the small words

            not " for them" but

"to them." Smallest of words

            making us smaller, leaving us/them

homeless. What we do with them. The first

            responsibility: to not be crushed, to not

crush. Home is a word we defend. And the children

            don't speak.











God of the unpossessable earth: or

            is chance the word we give to the set-up

we don't want to see? So much swept up by gale-force winds, new-age

            torrential rains, signs buckling under the set-to. In

the aftermath, in the disheveled streets, lost signs are lost

            promises. What's judged worthy is put beyond it.

For all that's bent, broken & beyond repair, let the stars ravish heaven.

            The light, the post-catastrophic light, rises; is pink over mazed trash.









Signs of what we will be.

            Floods submerge streets, street signs, houses.

From the sky, the flat expanse of water is accomplished

            Fact. Birds are departed, & their sweet questionings.

 A thousand-year flood. And then another.

            What can we take in? What, by blindness or

Resolution, will we be? The landscape's gone, the old

            Language is dying. I cannot comprehend it. Is mercy.

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Author Bio: Jon Thompson teaches at North Carolina State University where he edits Free Verse: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry & Poetics and Free Verse Editions, a poetry series. His most recent book is Notebook of Last Things, out in April of 2019 from Shearsman Books. More on him at www.jon-thompson.net.