Phil Kaye // “Repetition” (Poetry Observed)


My mother taught me this trick If you repeat something over and over again it loses its meaning For example homework homework homework homework homework
homework homework homework See? Nothing Our lives — she said — are the same way you watch the sunset too often, it just becomes
6pm you make the same mistake over and over, you’ll
stop calling it a mistake If you just wake up wake up wake up wake up wake up wake
up one day you’ll forget why I should have known Nothing is forever My parents left each other when I was seven
years old Before their last argument they sent me off to the neighbor’s house like some astronaut jettisoned from the shuttle When I came back there was no gravity in our home I imagined it as an accident That when I left they whispered to each other “I love you” so many times over that they forgot what it meant Family Family Family Family Family Family My mother taught me this trick If you repeat something over and over again It loses its meaning This became my favorite game It made the sting of words evaporate Separation Separation Separation See? Nothing! Apart Apart Apart Apart See? Nothing! I am an injured handyman now I work with words all day Shut up – I know the irony When I was young, I was taught that the trick to dominating language was breaking it down convincing it that it was worthless I love you I love you I love you I love you
I love you I love you See? Nothing. Soon after my parents divorce I developed a stutter Fate is a cruel and efficient tutor There is no escape in stutter you can feel the meaning of every word drag itself up your throat S-S-S-S-S-S-Separation Stutter is a cage made of mirrors every what’d you say every just take your time every come on kid spit it out is a glaring reflection of an existence you cannot escape Every awful moment trips over its own announcement again and again and again until it just hangs there in the center of the room as if what you had to say had no gravity at all Mom, Dad I am not wasteful with my words Anymore Even now after hundreds of hours practicing away my
stutter I still feel the claw of meaning in the bottom of my throat Listen to me I have heard that even in space you can hear the scratch of an I I-I-I-
I-I I I love you.

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