You Can’t Tell Me, by Jonathan Duckworth

(with thanks to Doc Suds)

that a poem can’t be its own rhizome, and that I shouldn’t rhyme when I’m not alone, that I can’t fit a round trip through a squared-away timezone, and that I couldn’t make a cubed fractal out of a dactyl if you gave me three chances to write three-beat lines three times.

that you don’t make a Faustian compact every time you forge a housing contract with those fat cats who’ve got the nerve to sit pat on the razor edge of the Gaussian curve and see you protract your ruinous tact until you’re forced to barter your last rag and bone just to get your own back.

that you believe in the sword but not the sorcery, and that I couldn’t build a clinker ship to sail the North Sea with all the Norse in me, or that you could weave sheet music for my backwards somnial squawking to churn out an intelligible song, or that a dead warhorse whipped all the way to the Styx isn’t a poor choice to foist a course upon.

that all those “I am X and Y” litany poems aren’t played, and the Gulf of Mexico isn’t watermelon Gatorade, and that there’s nothing pejorative attached to the word ‘ilk,’ and that brown cows don’t make a superlative batch of chocolate milk, and that the stork never needs to keep the giraffe around, and that you’d really notice if a tree falling in Times Square made a sound.


Jonathan Louis Duckworth is an MFA student at Florida International University, where he serves as a reader and copy-editor for the Gulf Stream Magazine. His fiction and poetry appears in or is forthcoming in Literary Orphans, Blinders, Hermeneutic Chaos, BOAAT, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, The Penny Dreadful, Synaesthesia, and Gravel among others.


%d bloggers like this: