The Poetry of
Jack Scott

Paper Airplanes

She writes with carbide pen
upon her side of mirror,
etching bold inscription
of message I will never see,
with rigidity of Commandments,
collateral damage and friendly fire
strewn unknowingly
beyond spotlight in her darkness,
still seeking what she claims she’s found:
a message of insistence
proclaiming boundaries
around blockades of intellect.

I use chalk,
soft enough for what I want to say,
erasable, retractable commitment
to exchange of language.
It is simpler to withhold
than to apologize.
(If I must explain my humor
I shouldn’t chance it.)
Aftermaths are miscalculations
of arithmetic
attracting punishment.

It didn’t start this way,
but as go good intentions
made with open heart and mind,
the law of unintended consequences
creeps in like mice to gnaw and fray
thought’s wiring and connections
playing havoc on the scale
of once harmonious logic.
Narrowing larger possibilities,
the door thought open was ajar,
transforming channel into funnel,
with seriously disparate ends,
reducing communication
to a calculated exercise of averaging.
Even if received it does not translate.

We agreed to share
what we could share,
feel what we could feel
ignorant that we couldn’t ,
that we didn’t know
what we had agreed to
because that realization
was not simultaneous,
but incremental,
lessons learned in fits and spurts
inharmonious lip service
to actual practice,
words not fitting deeds.

It was a valiant attempt
to stitch together
Emperor’s new clothes,
better to have darned the old ones,
patched and mended what was there.
I send her microdots
which only I can decipher,
understated overloads,
unexpected expectations
in their inadvertent obfuscation.

Paper airplanes
carrying passengers of words
becoming arrows midflight
wounding without enlightenment,
tearing without teaching,
extracting meaning from thought
to stand before the firing squad of devils
advocating defense of castles in the air
and arming armies to iron clad
what should remain vulnerable
because unthreatening,
safeguarding transparent secrets
known to all, unprivately,
collectively common knowledge
hiding in plain and open sight.

Why build what cannot stand
without constant reinforcement,
an arsenal of nails and screws and hammers,
duct tape and super glue,
a house of cards,
a fortress of dominoes
all beliefs aligned
to stand or fall together
without the comfort of completion,
before it falls apart and down,
or recognition
that it is a path ill-chosen
toward a destination you don’t want
as depicted on a biased map
on travel agent’s sales brochure
of vacation unchosen,
but assigned as if by lot.

I assume you see the weakness
in the sender of my messages,
but let it pass, unaccepted,
but acceptable enough
to withhold criticism
due to your fear of being criticized,
an unspoken truce.
Likewise I’ve let many things go by,
pass without comment,
criticism, challenge, question,
the deadliness of the latter
blunted by the protection
of the anger
it would most certainly arouse.

Damnation by faint praise
would more likely
become a burr under the saddle,
a pebble in the shoe,
Japanese Barberry
to an inadvertent handshake,
an unshakable reminder,
a bookmark in a book
you don’t want to read
because you’ll deal with that later,
now being never the time
to begin to change
what must be changed
for direction to be shifted,
for the opening of a menu
in a nonspecific need to sample
what might be better,
best to ease the pain,
to explain the need for pain,
to illuminate
on a larger atlas the anatomy,
the geography of pain.

Our treaty, our covenant:
if you do not cause me pain
I won’t hurt you.
Easily said,
the tongue being out of touch
with the memory of experience,
and loosened by the lubricant
of deceptive hope
so anxious to sign the contract
that the future
will immediately begin,
forgetful with impatience
resentful that it is a staircase
full of steps.
It is so easy to fall down,
the only way to fall.

She is spiky,
as in EKG, in EEG,
as in porcupine,
as in pins and needles,
an inadvertent treachery
seen dimly enough to deny,
too strongly felt to resist.
She reads and writes
in her room of broken eggshells
where I cannot go.
I drop my letters at her door,
slide them under,
wait, but never long
because she needs this correspondence
as much as I,
but for mostly different reasons
although some must be quite the same.
What do I have to protect or hide?
That I am a hypocrite?
No, that, I’m not.
It took a lot of work,
but I think that job’s done.
No congratulations,
no pats on back.

Hypocrisy stole so much time,
shouldn’t have happened
in the first place.
It displaced so many better things,
took space, demanded energy
without giving any.
Occam’s Razor.
Shave that beard.
Stop hiding behind it.
Ideas can be things,
bushes in the landscape,
shapes to hide behind
if transparency’s not the goal.

L62 ®Copyright 2012 Jack Scott. All rights reserved.