I Prefer a Poem with Spaces

By Jerome Rothenberg

I like to crack my words

between my teeth.

I tie my hair back

in a knot

& little care

how well it suits me.

The unearthing of a coin

under the streets

leaves us all shrieking.

I can pretend to think all thoughts

at once.

Seldom for me

is frequent

for my friends.

I prefer a poem with spaces

to a block of prose.

I do not mention roses. (G. Stein)

The thrill of climbing

makes me wring my hands

in glee.

You see me

& you

look away.

You ask me to be cautious.

I can reply to you

if time allows

if not I can stand still.

A poor girl reaches out her hand

but I have nothing left

for her not rhyme

nor reason.

We are all feckless

when it comes to love --

still more to justice.

JEROME ROTHENBERG will read from his work at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Poetry Collection, 420 Capen Hall on the University at Buffalo North Campus and again at 8 p.m. at the Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington St., as sponsored by the UB Poetics Program. Rothenberg has been a key figure in American poetry for more than a half century. This poem is from his “A Book of Witness: Spells and Gris-Gris” (New Directions, 2003).