This book is a series of boxes built to house a poem that explores language--the way that it both frees, constrains, connects and isolates. The boxes each contain an inlaid letter that corresponds with a section of the poem that is contained inside. Four species of wood were used in creation of this book and each box contains at least two of the four species. A portion of the title of the poem is burned into the side of each box. In addition, each box swivels on a dowel that runs through all four boxes.
The book is meant to be interactive and to stir questions-both with the text and the form that it is presented.
The poem text is below:
The True and False of Love, Lies & Audiotape
He shot the boy.
there is no question.
There cannot be,
for the boy is dead.
and now dead.
Shot by a man.
On the night the boy is shot,
call after call
streams into 911.
On the recordings
men and women
speak in scared,
as they peek
out the windows
of their suburban homes,
relaying things they see.
On the recordings,
a man’s voice reports
a suspicious teenager,
through the neighborhood,
into the waistband of his pants.
They always get away, the man says to the operator,
then he mumbles a phrase that sets the country on fire:
fuckin coons or fuckin punks,
only the man can say for sure
which one it is,
but all across the nation
people listen to the tape,
the same tape,
and hear different things.
I love you, the one says to the other.
I love you too, the other says to the one,
and with that,
the one goes to bed
and the other
finally stops pretending.
The one has chosen the pretending
and now it threatens everything.
In the cabinet, the other reaches for a bottle.
Shot after shot slides down into the other
until it all blurs,
until the black and white of truth
bleeds into grey.
A. & B.
In the basement where the sisters played as children,
water seeps through the walls when it rains,
and the father,
who long ago had his black hair turn grey,
tries to keep the space dry
with a long bristled brush
and a bucket full of solution
that he applies
year after year,
believing, still, that it makes a difference.
On the recordings,
a voice can be heard
screaming for help.
When the boy’s mother
listens to the recordings,
she runs from the room,
certain that the voice
belongs to her son.
Is it in and with or is it just love?
It is an important distinction.
When it is not in and not with,
it does not last because prepositions
Not so, the man says,
the voice is mine,
crying out to the neighbors
after the boy attacked me.
Sometimes when people ask the other what happened,
she wishes she could simply say
I lost the in and with
and that people would understand
that without the in and with,
there wasn’t enough.
she wonders whether she should have stayed,
whether she surrendered too easily to these two
whether in and with are just states of being that
come and go,
rising and falling
like the tides,
like the moon,
Sometimes she wonders
whether so much should depend upon
or absence of two words.
A. B. & C.
What became of the boy who cried wolf?
Did he grow into an honorable man?
The fable shows him crying at the end,
after he has lost all the sheep.
“Why didn’t anyone come?” the boy asks.
And the man has to explain
that no one believes a liar,
even when he is telling the truth.
The boy has made his own bed,
when the time comes
for him to lie in it.
At work my colleague asks,
“Wasn’t the guy who shot him Hispanic?”
He asks because he can’t see how race could be an issue
if the guy who shot him was Hispanic,
because if the guy who shot him was Hispanic,
he wasn’t white
and if he wasn’t white, he couldn’t be racist.
When the in and with disappear,
where do they go, she wonders.
She thinks that maybe she could track them down,
wrestle them to the ground,
chisel them in stone,
insert them back into the sentence.
It should be simple.
She works with words,
and when she doesn’t work with words,
she works with her hands
so it should be simple.
They are, after all, just words.