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I heard of a man
who says words so beautifully
that if he only speaks their name
women give themselves to him.

If I am dumb beside your body
while silence blossoms like tumours on our lips
it is because I hear a man climb stairs
and clear his throat outside our door.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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if wants to be the same as is

if wants to be the same as is

Essential Poems of David Bromige
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Fluke Print


Both ends of this dull pencil have their say
and go together. For when I try

the tapered point, finding I am led
to write before I die its darker things, instead

catch my eye ascending to the nub?
(the nodding jester's blunt "ah there's the rub!")

that daubs above the dismal lines below
a flourishing "I would not have it so."

Dyslexic, mute, it holds - that subtle curse -
a mirror up to nothing, in reverse.

My aching slant, my least that can be said,
is followed backwards by a nulling thread,

whose wavings-off, dismissive counter-sign,
become facetious, affable, benign,

a clear, upending scrub, as though?the baser
word that everything must go

were giddily extinguished in the air.
What all I cannot say is written there.


Among our parsing, several moods
of selfhood, conjugated thus-
I am, you are, she is, word-chess
where grapple our twinned solitudes,

where all our spoked divergent lines
of empathy come to quarrel-
we seek a marriage of true Mines
in the first-person plural.

First person? Plural? We won't add up.
The pronoun buckles under weight.
Our one-for-two's an iffy trope,
dichotomous and incomplete

unless made whole by that pure is,
the metaphoric predicate,
whose blithe between-where synapses
can couple kinds, make this a that.

Sooner said than done. Lying alike
conjoined, subjects that in part agree,
we give it the old college try,
our both I's open, cheek to cheek,

and listen, knowing how, just when
you touch your inner, stranger half,
my me divides you from yourself,
but seeks you there, again, again.

How else to conjugate, or dance
our pas de deux of Her and His,
to merge and part, on the off chance
(however wrong) we is, we is.

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