Three words. He can’t get them out of his head:
“of says his.” Those are the words, but those are
not the words. Something is wrong—the order.
“His says of.” No, the other order was
better, closer somehow. “Of says his.” This
order is right, but it doesn’t make sense.
He decides to take a break from this,
to think new words: “At ten, I shall shun the
edifice.” Yes, but what does this mean?
"Edifice" is clearly a symbol, representative
of some other word, some other concept.
Edifice (of says his) is a building, but
what are the materials, the foundation?
How large is this construction, and how solid?
But these thoughts are somehow also wrong,
straying from what he is trying to grasp,
which is what? “Of says his.” This is the key.
This order. And “at ten I shall shun the
edifice” is also this order.
He can’t let go of these thoughts. It is like
a compulsion. Yes! That’s it! “Compulsion.”
It doesn’t make sense, but it seems to fit
together: “Of says his.” “Compulsion.”
“At ten I shun the edifice.” This order.
“Of says his compulsion. At ten, shun the
edifice.” This order. “Of says his
compulsion. A tension, the visit.” This
order. “Of says his compulsive. A tension.
Deaf, is it?” This order. Yes. “Of-says-his
compulsive a-tension deaf-is-it this-
order.” He is very close to it now.
[A slightly different version of this poem first appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal]
Kelly Talbot lives in Indianapolis and is an editor for John Wiley and Sons. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Georgetown Review, New York Quarterly, River Oak Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and other literary journals.