Eratio Issue 17




Aphorisms for the Subjective Voice


by Tom Daley





Dusty, bluish, ripe as veto—

these pronouns prove their ovals


as a kind of leather.  Democracy of selves,

banked against airwaves or clusters,


speaking in “I” or “we” reopens

the caterpillar tents which anonymity sealed.


“I” is a vaccine, “we” is a season of strain.

“Us” buys us adhesions, sheds implications.


Among the reprieves, the hellos, the go-alongs,

“Me” sounds like movement, scales the muck


of math or off-limits.  Our tragedy herds our lagging

moments; Your tragedy signifies a surefire dispersal.


Impeachable assertion or impeccable silence?  Speaking

In subjective elides what denudes and denatures.


“I” is a pig roast, “Am” is the single smoke puff

made by blankets importing plague.










Tom Daley was a machinist for many years and now serves on the faculty of the Online School of Poetry ( and teaches writing in the Boston area.  His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Harvard Review, Fence, Barrow Street, Diagram, 32 Poems, Conte and elsewhere.  He has written a play about Emily Dickinson and her servants and performs it as a one-man show.