11–golden shovel from a line from the “Palace of Justice” — Sophocles’ Antigone

Love, loss and grammar

[Golden shovel from “I owe a longer allegiance to the dead than to the living: in that world I shall abide for ever” Sophocles]


Not “hi it’s me” but “this is she,” as I

Was told by my mother to whom I owe

My uptown grammar, my pedantic brio, a

Punctiliousness in speech that, the longer

I stay around, the lamer it grows. I pledge allegiance

To sounding smart, to showing you I know to

To make a subjunctive case when needed, peppered with the

Interjections of a foul-mouthed sailor, or really of my dead

Father who cared less for grammar than

For words, bad words and funny words in funny voices to

Make us laugh. Malarkey!, he’d say, and o the

Delight. How words breed life, repeat first loves, fill the living:


Hi, it’s me. In each word my connections, every one, in

The history of its use before it was mine and that

Tale of what it’s brought to our Wednesday world

You will never know my malarkey and I

Won’t fathom yours, but tonight we shall

Put away dictionaries and tell the stories and abide

In translation for ever

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