Big Song

I have tried it. The brag, with permission
of democracy. The royal we. The big
words, like courage, excellence and power,
brilliance. Have tried to supercede the bound-

aries of skin, hair, scarred hands, the fatigue
housed by the majority of my bones,
to launch a spirit large as a whole group
of people–waitresses, sisters, women,

poets, lovers, mammals etc.–
so that I could be the throat, the tip of the
tongue expressed. Oh, the vocabulary
of it all, filed beside Whitman, Ginsberg,

with snips of the old testament,
the syntax of presidents and most
romantic poets. I am a student,
with flash cards and coffee, of the necessary

exuberance, the jaunty-angled hat,
the workingman’s clothes, the apoplexy
of the pilgrim, the V-Day. The cock’s strut,
the virtuoso flourish, the chest swell,

that crescendo of being that shoots through me
and explodes into the perfect us-ness
of the larger sentiments, inspiring
love and generosity in the afterglow. I have over-

studied the sweet, opened door, the letter
that solicits, the look backward with smile,
all phyla of permission, I should just
photograph them like South American birds

and be done with them.
I over-respect the bigness of some–
their unselfconscious motions to include–
and guilt’s smallnesses in others.

Some arrive at big through abnegation–
the potlatch, desecration, the holy
stamina to blaspheme has its own stuff,
its lovely scatology of excess,

the spangles of self to burn. I have tried,
analyzed, faulted, pushed, and faked,
spewing from my fist-tight lips
like a girl spinning in her mother’s chiffon,

stained prom gown, thin and scared.

–Connie Voisine

Voisine’s work is new to me but I loved this one on the first read.

Connie Voisine teaches at New Mexico State University. Her volume of poetry, Cathedral of the North, received the Associated Writing Programs poetry award.