A poem doesn’t exist solely on the page. It projects from the paper onto the world. Think of it as a recipe. If it is poorly done, you start off wanting to make eggplant parmesan and wind up with pizzacasserole.Isa poem made of the written word? Is a poem made of sounds? Can you craft writtensymbols? Can you craft a sound? Sounds and symbols are already there, in the language. All you can do is scoop them up in spoonfuls. Sometimes the sounds are the shape of your mouth, “oh” “ow” “oo”: throats, vowels, bowls, mouthfuls, sounds, wooden spoons.
Sometimes theyare grotesque stress patterns that can’t be iambic, like when the stress falls on the third to last syllable: inTENtional, imPERative, as TALL as him, CERtitude, SYLlable.
Sometimes the ideas are as immaterial as smoke, and yet, it is not only in their sounds or their graphic representationthat they have an uncomfortable “heft” in the world: faith (just is?) justice.
But it’s not about ideas that disperse out in the ether. Better just to read the poem out loud and let the words roll around in your mouth. After all, you want to enjoy your eggplant here and now.