Sometimes the sight of them


Huddled in their cylindrical formation


Repels me: humble, erect,


Mute and expectant in their


Rinsed-out honey crock: my quiver


Of detached stingers. (Or, a bouquet


Of lies and intentions unspent.)

Pilots, drones, workers - the Queen is


Cross. Upright lodge


Of the toilworthy - gathered


At attention as though they know


All the ink in the world couldn't


Cover the first syllable


Of a heart's confusion.

This fat fountain pen wishes


In its elastic heart


That I were the farm boy


Whose illiterate father


Rescued it out of the privy


After it fell from the boy's pants:


The man digging in boots


By lanternlight, down in the pit.

Another is straining to call back


The characters of the five thousand


World languages dead since 1900,


Curlicues, fiddleheads, brushstroke


Splashes and arabesques,


Footprints of extinct species.

The father hosed down his boots


And leaving them in the barn


With his pants and shirt


Came into the kitchen,


Holding the little retrieved


Symbol of symbol-making.

O brood of line-scratchers, plastic


Scabbards of the soul, you have


Outlived the sword - talons and


Wingfeathers for the hand.