Today's poem is by Robert Pinsky


What is the origin of this despair I feel
When I feel
I've lost my grip, can't manage a thing?

That means a clutch of contending voices —
So my voice:

When my mongrel palate, tongue, teeth, breath
Out the noise thing I become host and guest

Of ghosts:
Angles, Picts, Romans, Celts, Norsemen,

Pincers of English the conquered embrace.
Of the woman who strangled her sister one night,

All night
Moaning with the body held in her arms.
The arms

Of the pliers I squeeze hard squeeze its jaws
And my jaw
Clenches unwilled: brain helplessly implicated

In plaited
Filaments of muscle and nerve. In the enveloping
Grip of its evolution

Chambered in the skull, it cannot tell the tool
From the toiler
Primate who plies it. Purposeless despair

The ape to its grapples, restless to devise.
In the vise-

Grip Discontent, the grasper's bent.

Copyright © 2006 Robert Pinsky All rights reserved
from First Things to Hand
Sarabande Books
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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