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A Fascination with Words

My father was an egghead Englishman

he wore the same tweedy jacket

at breakfast, Mondays boiled

Tuesdays scrambled.  He left

cigarette smells in bathrooms,

completing crosswords while

we waited for his racking cough

that felled him in the end


He left me with his fascination

for words, I see him there

gripping his pencil, unorthodox

between index and ring, ashtray

nearby, writing always writing,

precise phrases crawling across

the pages like fast drying ants


We think in words, my father

said, without them there are

no thoughts, only pictures, like

cows whose world is only grass

and milk.  All we build is made

from two and a half handfuls

of letters: edifices, devices to

probe the secrets of creation, to

flagellate each other, to pray and curse


They are our slaves yet they are too

our masters, we compose with them

as they compose us, they are our friends

our enemies, deceiving us into belief

they are all that exists.  If only we

could see beyond to where true

wisdom hides, the place where

truth needs no pen to describe itself


So saying, my father placed a

nitroglycerin tablet under his

tongue, coughed his last cough,

his papers scattering across the floor.

He left behind mountains of words

impossible to read them all, so many

combinations of those twenty six,

yet when I think of him now

all I see are pictures, a breakfast

table, a bathroom door, a nicotine

stained finger, a graying mustache,

the wart on his left eyelid which lifted

as he sipped his Scotch

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© Johnmichael Simon



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