Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press. He has published other poems in print and in online journals. He is an adjunct professor in creative writing at George Washington University. Poetics: neither navelgazing mainstream nor academic pseudo-avant-garde.
I invented a language. Began backwards,
with the sound. Swedish, a metaphysics
heard in a dream. Portuguese, inexorable seduction.
(I had to work to push aside
an incredulous Dalarna pig-farmer,
a Lisbon attorney and other
The dying fall at the end of a thought
innate in Murasaki’s Japanese;
the endless subliminal insult
prevailing, I’ve heard, in Fuegian.
Then the nouns. No gender, but a wealth
of insinuation in her pronouns,
allusiveness in (optional) articles.
Then syntax: polysynthetic, agglutinative
to the point that every big statement
is one word, the next some Yiddish irony.
Technical terms, all loan-words, seem
to bob, almost capsize, on
this surface, which, examined, is perfectly calm.
At parties I mumble, on the street
at night I dim the lamps.
Ideograms appear in wet cement.
Should I find the right combination of meanings
I will hasten the heat-death or Last Judgment
but meanwhile am enjoying myself too much.
Even in dreams I don’t run.
At worst a stately progress
into horror, at best indifference.
I ran in childhood, but let’s not be maudlin.
Even in dreams I don’t hear
these long-lapsed names
on yellowed pages drafted once
in hope I must update in fear.
an elaborated world, a new body
to hide in. Ahead the sea,
elsewhere a forest of the hanged.