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Mantenere Una Promessa

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In Steve Kowit’s book, In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop, I read about the technique of cross out poems, which involve circling or crossing out random phrases from a variety of sources, then mixing the phrases together to create something new. To read a much better description, with examples, consult Mr. Kowit’s inspiring book. For this poem, I used a Beginning Italian phrase book, a summer vacation brochure, and a volume of excerpts from the diaries of C.S. Lewis.

Offer up the first reel of every morning,
the hour when tide charts and fishing guides
with their slow, whimsical way of talking
tell you—When you look, look beyond this.
You think they said mornings are
the best chance to see dolphins
but since you never take
the first translation that arrives,
mantenere una promessa
could easily mean something about
manatees on the promenade.

This is not just any figure at the door.
Perhaps we shall not see it again,
so treasure all the beauty that comes knocking,
in any translation, at all times.

We have slipped into late hours once more.
There is more than one guide, more than
one treasure to explore. So if you want
to go, Go. Satisfy that hunger.
Fulfill your promise
to treasure what you find
buried in the sand.

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