“Anything you say can be used against you.”
Comforting to know
my every word
is of use.
I use dangerously plain words.
They don’t take to strangers.
You could get hurt
trying to use my words
You don’t love my words at all!
You’re just using them!
“Say Yes! to life.” “Just say no.”
You have the right to remain silent.
“Do you deny saying ‘the’,
‘if’, ‘and’, ‘on’, and ‘you’?”
No…but it was just talk!
I didn’t mean anything by it!
They read you your rights.
Your wrongs you already know
“Do you deny saying ‘glimmer’,
‘conflagration,’ ‘gossamer’, ‘bonewhite’
Yes, those were my words, but
that’s not what I meant at all.
“Where was your face before you were born?”
It went for a walk, alone, then to a movie.
“What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
I hear it often at poetry readings.
“Did you ever say “O!”, “frail”, “geometry of winter”,
“I know not what”, “flashed a smile”, “darted a glance” and
“into the night”?
I used the words, sure, but they weren’t mine,
none of them, I stole them all; always,
behind the words of others,
I was silent.
Well, borrowed, yes, but only to speak
to those with borrowed ears.
I told them what they wanted to hear.
Nothing I said can be used.
Not even against the alleged me.
“You deny being me?”
There’s no proof.
Pronouns have been protected
to change the innocent.
“Read him his rights.”
(Ah, write me, my readers!)
(Yes, book me, chapbook me, anthologize me,
page me, sentence me…)
How can I remain silent
when I have never been silent?
“You are accused of being
here and communicating!”
“Anything you say will be taken down…”
What is taken down
must be taken up.
Do you think your silence cannot be used
against you? We have ways
of making you talk:
“See the birdie! Say birdie!
Very Goood! Now, see the doggie!…”
It was only a game, I just wanted
to create an effect, I didn’t mean.
“A likely story.”
“Just tell me one thing:
Did you do it?” Yes, but it was
“How do you plead?”
With all my heart.
“I’m innocent!” he cried
Honest, I’m just a fresh new voice,
speaking with an authority and mature vision
beyond my years and sustaining
a delicate ironic balance…
“Objection: Irrelevant, incompetent
and immaterial.” “Sustained.”
“S-s-stained!” stuttered the s-s-specked.
What IS the truth, the whole truth
and nothing but the truth?
(Silence in the court)
You are already sentenced to life
and death: What can be done to you?
Life without parole, that is,
life without the word, silence.
I have given you my words,
and speak them now
only if you speak them.
is my silence.
Don’t be silent; be silence:
When silence speaks,
I retain the right
to remain violent.
You have the silence
to remain right.
You have the right to
The rite has you.
Don’t forget to write.