Howard Firkin
True, I can sound Cyrillic; so I’ve read
the titles of your poems, sound by sound,
slow letters forming syllables around
a meaning baffled by the words I’ve said.
The thick kid back at school—it’s all a blank.
I recognise the city names: Beirut,
Canberra, Beograd; and pick out odd
words—currents in a doughy bun—but God,
we know, exacts revenge for tasting fruit:
expelled like every other lovesick crank.

I’ll find a space for you upon a shelf
and wonder if I shouldn’t learn to read
those words intended for some other self.
I’d only drown, or choke, or burn, or bleed.