Tuesday, November 14, 2017

On Finding Van K. Brock and These Words

photoart © Mark Butkus 2011
These words leave a ringing in my ears.

The words I had for you were small
presents saying light things, and I had
filled them with my breath, like a bouquet
of balloons. Then, I thought they might
float off unless I tied them to you
or pressed them firmly into your grasp.
So I stayed up all night making them
into inflatable lifeboats. I know you know
they are too small to ride. Also,
they often crash although they sail up
rivers we have only dreamed, and even
disappear, with their secret cargoes,
into those distant interiors where


you may find one ripped open on a sharp
day, addressed to where you are, these
words, strewn among wave-smoothed pebbles,
but the carg still there. Rare coins?
No. Only little phones that keep ringing
until you answer and the operator says,
"A person-to-person call: will you
accept the charges?" And I will say, "No,
Operator, it's a person-to-person only.
The toll is paid." And to you: "The coins
are in you, not in those boats I made.
When you look inside, you will see.
The flipside is a map whose face is yours."


— Van K. Brock


These Words come from Van K. Brock's 1981 volume of poetry, The Window (Chase Avenue Press). It is the last poem in the slim volume and the only one that had not appeared in print elsewhere at the time.

We found These Words after being directed to the Westbeth Flea Market during a morning walk in the West Village of New York City. Born into this world on Halloween 1932, the author passed on March 1, 2017. We are forever grateful for these words.