You may misunderstand

by Cherryl E. Garner
criticalpoet.net
Honorable Mention, January 2012
Judged by John Timpane


You may misunderstand my grousing.
I’m a bitching maker, lists
others’ errors, scaredy
of my troubling own. Still, I

see life as my one gem.
It’s buried, so I dig for it.
It’s grail, it’s beating red, it’s raw,
that singularity.

Ways can surround with
tender trees and
steady rooted stays,
the uber

blooms of showy
everythings…those stars! That
calling, endless black! I’ve tried the
awkward nothing.

Ungraceful, I still want it
like the scents of cinnamon,
cloves bitten, bitter,
pinesandsandalwood,

a puff of bodydust, a view of soul.


"You May Misunderstand" has the flavor of a summing up. It's the kind of statement any poet feels like making, any person alive in the world in which others are alive to him or her. It also has the shrug of helpless apology: "It's grail, it's beating red, it's raw,/That singularity" -- fabulous! We can't help it -- we're the way we are, poets more so than most, Me more than Anyone. And the awkwardness of "I've tried the/awkward nothing" really hangs the whole thing, awkwardly, on a limb. That's yet another virtue of this poem: it seems to imply that nothingness isn't an option, since we're not granted it. Instead, it's everythingness and us, and if we act weird, and get misunderstood, well, right. The poem goes up, literally, in a fragrant puff of smoke. Very strong appeals to the sense of smell as the closing gesture of a poem -- you don't see that too often. Great stuff. ---John Timpane

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