Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I


You cannot say it without meaning
something particular and peculiar.

It’s a lonely syllable, forgotten
in a child’s mouth, out of tune
with the cavernous song of you.

It overshadows. It is
a tree among stumps—
its top branches,
its sturdy roots,
stretching outwards,
away from itself.

It dresses in an emperor’s clothes,
likes to be  dominant and predominant 
upon the tongues of everyone. 

More a vow than a vowel,
it’s an open-mouthed sounding.

Some chant it, as if repetition
will bring it into being. But it’s nothing
without you to give it something
to speak of.  

Perhaps that’s why it’s constantly striving
to fill up the scrawny scratching, its hunger
for the one thing it will never become—you.

Perhaps that’s why it chalks
straight lines until they become
bars, barricading a view of an unfettered
expanse, its longing to be something other
than a crisis or contradiction.

And perhaps that’s why it envies
those unplowed fields growing
a horizon, the wide, taunting sky,
the unselfconscious sun illuminating
all of it.

© Ami Mattison

17 comments:

  1. Lovely contrast between what this "I" means, how it seeks to become what it cannot ever be, and what is greater than any of us.

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  2. wow. love that stanza when it chalks the lines, bars...great stuff there ami...and that i can not become you...a simple yet deep thought...

    love seeing you around more

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  3. ...it dresses in an emperor's clothes...
    ...more a vow than a vowel...
    great lines ...I like this one very much!

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  4. oh wow...you gave it personality...as if it hadn't enough...and yet...nothing at all to give if there's not a you...love it ami..and esp. the last stanza as a contrast to the loneliness and self-consciousness...

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  5. I was actually thinking about all this concept of self and other while I was out walking the dog, but you have articulated it way beyond my musings--I like the way you revolve it through all the changes in perspective, ending with a strong and evocative close--though my favorite line is "...its hunger
    for the one thing it will never become—you..."

    Great to have you posting, Ami.

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  6. you have a new fan darlin! ♥

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  7. excellent - its my favourite subject ;)

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  8. I wish you would have recorded this. So sharp and crisp and clean. I enjoyed this very much. My first time here. One of my favorites.

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  9. "its hunger for the thing that it will never become..."great line Ami..you are a wonderful writer...bkm

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  10. In the cultural aggrandizement of self we've become so sotted with, "I" has become the world's capital, the only deity with a capital letter left in its name. "More vow than vowel" - yes, and yet, despite its omnivorous devouring to get to "you" (as you say, impossible), a brooding senex walking its ramparts, defending against the natives, hooding all the windows against the sun. "I" is the true laissez-faire capitalist, winner take all, whiner appalled to know there's one cent it cant' own ("you"). Fine poem, Ami. - Brendan

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  11. No small coincidence that the letter "I" looks so much like the number "1" ("One" begets "Lone" which begets "Lonely")

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  12. Wittgenstein said there is no I, but I think he was wrong in that, though why informs some or much of your poem. It does seem to be the simplest fact about life as we approach it and try to either dominate or overtake it. The emptiness of this I peers out sometimes from among your lines, and perhaps that is what I am too, an emptiness wanting to be something. Your poem is great simply for the fact that it addresses the existence or not of this I. That it does so with meaningful clarity of voice and self-awareness is that much more marvelous.

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  13. Simply lovely, Mattison. You are still one of the most talented poets I know.

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  16. "It’s a lonely syllable, forgotten
    in a child’s mouth" and "a tree among stumps" and "it chalks
    straight lines" ohhh I have too many favorites.

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