Given a Line
When a line stares at you too
long, what is it demanding?
Not enough said or too much
down in black against white?
While Klee takes a line for a walk
Cash walks the line and you type
a line already over exposed on
the blank but measured screen.
The line requests reply in-
quiring Why? Plaintive as
a choir in plainsong. Empty
as a needle eye and just as full.
What lies behind the line that
lies so flatly on the page? Planes
of undifferentiated disparity in
two dimensions? Perception
shrunk to the length and
width of a white sheet for-
getting depth for breadth.
squeezed onto even
surface. Plain but not
simple. Simple but
not easy. Eased into
the iterative wanders
through uninvestigated realms
of possibility not yet verbalized
in reams of rhyme and story told,
spewing reasons all their own.
A patter of cliché recurs at random
when the pat lie surfaces all too
conveniently, slips into place as if
pattern might solve that old puzzle
you need to articulate again and
again. What springs to mind can be
sometimes appropriate, sometimes
appropriated. Mind the gap to grasp
indifferent reminders of what might
remain reflexive difference. A gift
of involuntary association demands
alert reaction to discern what could
be learned, what spurned and what
just is. Carried over. To the next
poem where Why echoes down the
row. Give that piece your best regards.
“Given a Line” by Penn Kemp appears in CV2. Contemporary Verse 2. V.38.3, Winter 2016.
Editors: Clarise Foster and Lori Cayer.