Run your finger down this page. Don’t fear it 

the way you have feared others like it; 

as if the barbed wire hook of ‘h’ 

or an unforgiving shard of ‘v’ could slice 

your hand open

on a whim. 


Even the language of language drops anchor, 

a one-vessel panic attack.


You gaze down at them:

affricatives a rattling admonition 

from a far-off fleet,

aspirates the gasp of a drowning woman 

as waves do the word’s bidding.


The bookshelf is a row of perfect-bound landmines,

spine-brassed with the names of those already fallen, 

hearts cut out in their prime 

by the mechanical silence of full stop after 

full stop.

                Semi-colons like spent casings. 


The only canon you do not fear 

is that tight, trusted band of brothers 

numbering only in their hundreds: 

enough nouns hammered into the hard earth,

reliable, unchanging 

(a spade always was a spade)

with enough capricious verbs to rope a corral 

and keep you from escaping. 


Yes, for you words are violence,

because words lead unquestioningly 

to thoughts.


And thoughts are black, bloody murder.