A Poem is a Conversation

John C. Mannone

with itself, and the reader
is listening. Not just to words,
but to their music that intones
the purpose of life.

More than a prayer or proverb,
more than social commentary,
more than life, or love, or
anything abstract reworded
to be clear as crystal.

A poem will ask the impossible
then try to answer. It will fail
no more often than lovers do.

I hear it speak, its echoes in my
chambers—deliberate repetition,
emphatic. It may not have any
rhyme or logic, just collage or
fleeting presence.

An elegy with soulful minors
of consonantal rhyme. It hears
itself rejoice despite the somber
ink. Alliterative call and response.

Cymbals drumbeat a meaning
in the poem, comparing itself
to me, each measured step
a shuffle of ideas. And I am
a desperate reader to keep pace
in search of truth.

Come! Words, Phrases. Come
reason with me. Tell me, tell me why.
You are the mirror in which I see myself.
Can you hear my thoughts


John C. Mannone edits poetry for Abyss & Apex. He won the Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian literature (2017) and served as celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). His work appears in Artemis, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, Windhover, Sonic Boom, Red Coyote, Sin Fronteras, Setu,Nadwah: Poetry in Translation, Nthanda Review andothers. He’s a retired professor of physics living near Knoxville, TN.

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