Poetry by Lowell Jaeger

This Sounds Crazy

but here it is:
the dictionary is down-right seductive. Not
something you want to say loud
in the locker room, or after
no-matter-how-many vodka tonics
with a babe you hope to woo. True,
some places words just get in the way.

But the dictionary has room
for them all, sort of a huge boarding house
for nouns, verbs, and their extended kin.
An orderly establishment,
everyone lined up alphabetically.
Each has a place at the table,
a cup engraved with his name.

Real democracy!
Penurious priests perchance perching
in the pantry with a profusion of perfumed
Persian prostitutes. How they all pack
in there is predictable, predestined, preordained.
Or just plucky?
Key, Francis Scott: American lawyer, author
of the “Star Spangled Banner” kvetching
with Khrushchev, Nikita: first secretary
of the Russian Communist Party. Both (for once)
on the same page.
Kakapo, Kickapoo,
kibitz, kibbutz, kibosh, kazoo. Kinky, maybe.
But like the keister loves it,
the kisser does too.

See? Gets me all worked up. Like
conning my way out of seventh grade
study hall with a library pass
to sit at a back table, studious
pretext to drool over the sounds of
genitalia, vagina, nipple, cock.
I’ll push even further profane.
You might think I’d relish a celebrated word like “God”
but I do not. Way too much a proper noun:
“The single supreme agency
postulated in some philosophical systems
to explain the phenomena of the world,
having a nature variously conceived
in such terms as
prime mover, an immanent vital force,
or infinity.”
All of which
drains the blood out of any fun whatsoever.

I hereby propose we agree on one thing
bigger than there’s a word to name it.
It’s everywhere: lint in your coat pocket,
water dripping from the tap, bubble gum
stuck to your sole. Tsunami, earthquake,
tornado. A bug’s anus. Siren’s howl.
The curve of a woman’s hip and thigh. Collective
moan of lovers everywhere, ever.

Sounds crazy, and does no good
to look it up. It’s

on the tip of your tongue.


About Lowell Jaeger

As founding editor of Many Voices Press, Lowell Jaeger compiled Poems Across the Big Sky, an anthology of Montana poets, and New Poets of the American West, an anthology of poets from 11 Western states.  His third collection of poems, Suddenly Out of a Long Sleep (Arctos Press) was published in 2009 and was a finalist for the Paterson Award.  His fourth collection, WE, (Main Street Rag Press) was published in 2010.  He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council and winner of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize. Most recently Jaeger was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for his work in promoting thoughtful civic discourse.