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How Time Does Things With Words

January 2, 2010

by James Toupin

Time speaks in tongues.
In echoing castles they built
to subdue themselves, the Saxons heard
the conqueror’s “ask,” rightly,
as “demand.” So many griefs
the language wants to tell…

Lost in the words.
Our burning, lightless, encroaches.
Now that we menace them
more than they do us,
jungles recede to forests
making and made by their rain.

Senses drain through a sieve.
“Alternative” each day
loses ground, its ending
so fallen you can no longer
tell a choice of options
from every other one.

The true name never spoken,
the book shifts back and forth —
“Jehovah” or “Elohim,”
“El Shaddai” or “Adonai,”
our Father, our King —
until the Eternal is silence.

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James Toupin is a government lawyer who lives in Washington.

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  1. January 2, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    “So many griefs
    the language wants to tell…”


  2. January 3, 2010 at 9:07 am

    That first stanza bowls me over.

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