Eratio Issue 17




Two Poems


by Joseph Tate








[in a singsong voice] O Man O Man.

Everything’s coming up


[falsetto] daisies!

Checked voicemail; yep, [quaver] bloodwork’s fine.


[Thoughts bent like—

posture bent like—


paper-thin gears, a crooked tundra.]

So, [bass] lowering to half of half a pill?


[again, in a singsong voice]

Heading up that slope sounds doable.


[inaudible] Il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux.

Il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux.







“... when a thought takes one’s breath away, a lesson on grammar seems an impertinence.”

                                     —Thomas Wentworth Higginson




the Ten-Foot Poet culled the latest sea-slopped syllables

with a calm and marble Harrumph.

“... too little or too much punctuation and similar aberrations.


These have nothing to do with being alive.”  (nor dying.

such pronouncements: that’s how you unmake friends.

“He looks down on everybody,” Frost said.)





the Tyrian Poet projected from the dock:

“who / can tell another how / to manage the swimming?”

(he told Creeley who didn’t mind his management)


poem as energy. space & punctuation

as breath. a typebar’s dull kniving to exact the greengreyseasway

or: a typewheel turn toward the necessary pause.





they “left me boundaries of pain / Capacious as the sea.”

and widening water: silent, stilled; clouding.

I fumble-paddle shorewise with disappointed lungs.










Poems by Joseph Tate have appeared in Yemassee, The Oregonian and other publications.  He edited the Music and Art of Radiohead and has published and lectured on Shakespeare and prosody.