Allie D'Augustine's poem read at the Writers House "Mind of Winter" program


January 31, 2002

I wanted to write
a wintry poem
I can't get the word
paroxysm out of my head.

I don't even know
what paroxysm means. . .
ok, that's a lie; I do know.
The thing is, the word sounds
comforting to me, with the
x and y and 'ism,'
but it's anything but.

Decadence is called for:
anything with raspberry coulis;
taking cabs both there and
back. When the sun sets --
it happens now in the early afternoon --
I'm always outside. The sky turns
pink and clear. Streaks across.
Everything more
real than reality (which is,
you've found out by now,
given to a sort of dullness around
the edges).

The ugly takes on a beauty
that makes you cry.

You hope it won't snow.

You try to hold on,
to write words neatly and
isolated -- you take them over.

You try to write in lines,
stanzas, to give yourself
structure, so as not to spill out.

You try to think up more
words -- star-gazing,
itinerant, vague.

You try to find a theme,
and see many; you conclude
that it is about sound and
meaning, both.

You wait for everything to be
ruined, but everything becomes
more beautiful.

It makes you nervous. There are
limits, right? You wait
to hit them. They will come
when you stop paying
attention, and they will crash. Because
you weren't ready.

Stay ready.