1:0  Fillip

1:1  A poet finds his fillip in a poem’s flushed lips. She eats him, and he starts to work, carving psalms, like Jonah, in her taut, wet maw.

1:2  Poems’ lips are everywhere: in halls, on walls, at balls.  A poet who hears the lips a lot or who sees the lips part is a sort of sot.

1:3  A poem: part lips, part ways.

1:4  A painter’s subject can distract him from his first idea, Bonnard warned.  But poetry is distraction from the poet’s fillip, his first idea.

1:5  Poets in their ecstasy don’t channel poems.  Instead, poems in their lassitude channel-surf poets.

1:6  Poets think of parted lips, splayed legs.  But the urge to write, the fillip, is really for the propagation of poetry.  Poems understand this.

1:7  A poem is domestic, farouche. There’s nothing wild about a poem, even one through Whitman or Thomas.  Dickinson, a savage, understood this.

1:8  I recall dramatic poems at college, like Browning’s & Eliot’s, but most were psych majors. (Never English; one dorm poem sniggered at my poetics paper.)

2:0  Silence

2:1  Poems part their lips, but they aren’t hookers. Many live chaste. In fact, the best poems aren’t spoken or written, & so it will always be.

2:2  Some poems are silent from the womb, some their recalcitrant poets silence, while others have gone ineffable for the kingdom’s sake.

2:3  Even a poem, if she holds her peace, is counted wise.

3:0  Shadow

3:1  A poem is apophatic, farouche.  The paper’s the poem.

3:2  The poet sculpts paper until the paper’s poetry.  A stodge of verse breaks down at his feet.

3:3  As a lawyer, I once deposed a guy at CIA headquarters. Afterwards, agents scissored the classified words from my notes. All I kept was the poetry.

3:4  The poem’s shadow is the poem.  And what’s the poem.

.Instituto Pasteur, Lisboa, Portugal

“Instituto Pasteur, Lisboa, Portugal” by Biblioteca de Arte-Fundacao Caoluste Gulbenkian. Used by permission. “Trill” are my Twitters. Tweet suites from @slowreads.

By Peter

After stints as a trial lawyer and a church worker, Peter Stephens has settled in as a Virginia high school English teacher. Peter has read several books and poems. He wrote none of the posts below filed under "Passages." Click the link at the end of each post to see it in the context of the author's original post.