Rethinking Language

Since moving to Monterey,
he has become afflicted with the voices
of the ghosts of fish.

He went to the beach on his first day
and heard the song of the choir aquatic:
like a thousand birds, trapped
in a glass bowl, recorded and played backwards.

Seafood is a problem.
His girlfriend pan-fried a red snapper
for their first meal in the new apartment.

Each bite screamed at him
until he did the humane thing,
sent their dinner to its proper rest
by way of dumpster.

He lives alone now,
shut in his apartment, six miles from water,
trying to drown the whispers:
six goldfish, claimed by a tank fungus,

swallowed in the roaring maw
of the toilet in apartment 7E;
a slab of lox next door that keens
wordless things about cream cheese and capers.

He has considered moving inland,
but that would interfere with his plans,
long gestated, to infiltrate
and bomb the local SeaWorld.

He will linger a while longer.
You can visit him if you like, hear him
speak on the linguistic quirks
of the North Sea Cod dialect

that he heard in a supermarket:
a trembling gasp from under layers of ice,
its words like a lover’s secret.

Re: Think Language
Louis Lafair
2013 National Student PoetSouthwest Region

Text Message to my Girlfriend


Conversation with my Grandma

Don’t talk about the
death of language. I—you—we will die, but
language does not die.
No one can crush
that first palm riding the air
in a five fingered salute
greeting farewell
because even curled into a fist that palm feels
with the thread of human tongue.

Latin, the gasping language, is not dead, but breathing
with imperceptible vitality. Salve, it says, not
Vale, as the valedictorian speaks on. Hardly antiqua as antiquity lingers. Rather ingrained,
the roots of a tree, as its branches palm sky, reaching towards a never-ending end.

Constant change cometh, constant change comes. Language stays her, an archaic expression of here,
passing, at times, through awkward periods, like the stretched amalgamations lapsing from youth to adulthood.
Hair sprouting, lips twitching, eyes blushing.

So you see, Grandma?
That text message I sent to my girlfriend?

That was a rustled leaf, an extended limb, a baby’s,
girl’s, woman’s, mother’s, grandmother’s song.
Not the death of language, which cannot die.

Don’t you feel it?
The feigned disinterest, concealed excitement, unspoken words?
Language, breath-think-asking, living, on its own,
in that hard backed, four pronged letter K.

Don’t you understand? Standing underneath a

history, a story where words fold into words? Briefly, perhaps momentarily, that swift K

surfaces, the result of a

gradual, momentous shift in tide,

riding from text message to text mess-
age, from soul
to soul, from wave to wave.
Though small,
though seemingly meaningless, that alphabetized, un- formalized grain is part
of the story
of the shifting sands of language,
and composes an entire poem.


In Response to Patricia Smith: What It's Like To Be A Black Girl For Those Of You Who Aren't
Karlyn Boens
Young Chicago AuthorsStudent

She said being a black girl is feeling like you’re not finished She said it’s finding that space between your legs

a disturbance at your chest and not knowing what to do with the whistles ....

Is this what it means to be a woman?

To shop all day as bags clutch against your flesh: you can't wait to feel pretty. Feeling pretty is that first touch of make-up that hits your skins.

Your friends say it looks right..

It's noticing the blemishes on your face that you didn't order

It's ordering take out dishes and instantly feeling like you have arrived at 500 pounds It's arriving between rocks and hard places

Discovering your lips can do more than mommy ever told you they could

It's speaking louder than you ever imagined and not caring who hears you scream Who sees your nightmares

Who vamps with you through night

It’s that first kiss with the fella with the liquor stained kush breath. That oddly you enjoyed

It’s learning the difference from a man and a nigga. It's no longer being able to sit on daddy's lap. You’re growing up.

Not trusting anyone.

That smell of blood in your breakfast that Smith speaks of … It's fear.

It's independence.

It's happiness.

It's the life that every girl wants to live

Omari Ferrell
Young Chicago AuthorsStudent

The entire aura of this place was wonderful The balance of life was perfect ...
Beauty radiated with the mere mention of this place.

There wasn't a doubt in my mind that people would soon begin to travel miles at a time just to marvel at its beauty
And sit and watch its innocence and wonder correlate so perfectly with its


soon the legends would begin of her peaceful anarchy.

Then man came guns blazing, violently spreading darkness and pain across her land.
Stripping her of her beauty, destroying her land

Chopping down her trees drying seas leaving her land bare and eyes wet, Broken, she drops to her knees surrounded by a desert wasteland.
They destroyed a paradise and everything around it and even though they did this they call her ugly and worthless
And what's even worse is; she believes this

They give her make up, and tell her that it will make her beautiful again Burying her natural beauty under concrete, skyscrapers and sin
she is now convinced that her dark skin ..  is a cage .. her children have been caged
The stars that once shone in her eyes, have disappeared, replaced by the bright dim streetlights in her soul.
They still tell stories of this woman of this land, of the beauty that used to exist that she allowed to slip so far into an inescapable abyss unaware that they are the ones that did this … I walk on her street and look into her dying eyes ...  i take out a case containing my weapon. Of mass destruction, revealing the beauty that used to be
i begin to play a jazzy tune

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