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POEM: WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH by Ellen Ritterberg

What can you do with a line
in your mine
in your mind mined
maybe full stop maybe perhaps not.
Where else would the line lie?
What can you do with the line
for a poem you are sure has a place on the page
where else would it go
asserting affirming confirming declaiming ascertaining what you
feel or
what you know or
what you think you know or thought you ought to but now know you
don’t, aren’t sure.
What can you do with the orphan line
certain it has a place in a poem
but not here
a poem of a certain grace
and what can you do with the unwritten poem
planned scanned no not scanned,
scansion, great word that and what can you
do with a life lived
largely in the mind largely
locked there stashed, tucked away
walnut-like, canals, hard fissures
dislodged with a nudge
from the tongue.
Try it.
I warrant it works.
consider the poem contained on the page existing in the person
of the poet nothing more.
I want to thump my chest and say
I am here for myself on a ledge
not high but just high enough
to jump off and make for safe passage,
my life maintained
as I grab for a stalk contained in a pulpy morass
but nevertheless I, it,
the poem,
are worthy of being
(needs an ending needs an ending)
Tilt.

Ellen Pober Rittberg is a writer of poetry, plays, and prose. A former journalist, her essays have appeared in the New York Times and other large urban daily newspapers. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous journals and several anthologies. She performs her poetry whenever asked.

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