John Phillips


This is how it
begins. It
could have been
different. Maybe it
would’ve been
better. Not
that it matters.
What’s done
can’t be changed,
or can be —
but once changed
it’s not the same —
or this poem
would be another,
that began a
different way
and ended
nothing like this.


Imagine this is a poem.

What should it do for you not to regret reading the words
that say it?

Write your ideas below:

Not that I’ll use them in this. Maybe the next,
if there is one.

Agreed, it’s presumptuous to say I in a poem,
since poems are written by
language and use those who claim to write them
merely as a means to put down
whatever the language needs to be said.


You can take what you want
from this. It won’t be

what I thought to give.
But I wanted to offer.

Even if nothing more than
the words you came with,

returned in a different order,

saying the same thing
words always say.

Which there’s no need to repeat,
though, of course, we do.


Words might not be what they say they are.
Since only they can say what they are it’s
entirely up to them to be what they want.
Whatever thoughts on the issue we have
are merely ideas expressed in words. This in-
volves a certain amount of uncertainty &
confusion, since to question what
it is we are using to question, questions
both the question and the questioner, as well
as the point in questioning anything at all.

John Phillips lives in Slovenia. His most recent chapbook is Included, a free ebook available from Otata Bookshelf. His books are: Shape of Faith (Shearsman, 2017), Heretic (Longhouse, 2016), What Shape Sound (Skysill Press, 2011) and Language Is (Sardines Press, 2005).
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