Three poems by alumni Matt Hart (poetry, ’02) appear online at The Good Men Project.

How to Do Things with Words

The sound of the train and the breeze
take me whistling. I walk down the street
and greenish light floods the world,
but only for a second. I am wrestling

with how green isn’t really green here,
and wondering if green is ever really green
anywhere? And could this line of thinking,
by virtue of its subject, be pastoral?

I doubt it. I’m having a hard time seeing lately
how to do things with words. I’m coming down
with a cold, and it’s clear it’s going to rain,
which is odd. Odd that I can feel it

before it happens. And I am still adjusting
to these ordinary thoughts about an ordinary day
using ordinary language in the ordinary ways.
But in my head the voice always wondering

if I could’ve done it better? All this revision
and little revelation. Something about heaven
at the earth’s sorry edges. Something I deleted.
And something else too about language, its limits.

I will stop this nonsense soon, or I will get
distracted and forget it. I will move on
to a hundred other things. Now rain
pings the roof of the house more or less.

Just as I predicted. I look out the window
at dark, wet leaves, and a grass-green house
that isn’t really green, streetlights reflecting
on themselves in the puddles. They don’t wonder

how to do things with words. They shine
a light, and it’s simple.

Matt is the author of Who’s Who Vivid (2006, Slope Editions) and editor of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking, & Light Industrial Safety. Read more of his poems at The Good Men Project.

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