The BOOKPRESS April, 1996

Faithful


Peter Fortunato


Faithful

Faithless words I had collected scattered
and escaped me. Every word must

Have its say, they argued: some pronounced
a gloomy sentence; some were beautiful

shining in their leather sheathes, arranging
tragic assignations; some were my allies

others old temptations. Ancient words I heard
and the modern words of madmen, words

of naive genius newly pressed from petals,
the wild words that people purchase like a cure

for the disease of words. Words clustered
and ripened at the apex, metasized

in the abyss, words multiplied like murderers
in my ears, and divided the grains from the wheat

waiting at the ports to feed the hungry. Words were
selling words, were buying a winterís worth

wearing the names of numbers, wearing the smiles
of liars. Nothing but a contract spelled in blood

means much, I said, and had to eat those words.
Only politicians can survive on such a diet.

Poets distrust words, I said, and we have been
betrayed by them, maligned and sometimes

magnified by words that survive us.
I know not one wise word is ever what it seems.

The wisest of all is a sign which only the faithful
can interpret, who believe already they live

like words in the middle of air.

--Peter Fortunato

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