things best left unsaid...

from my anthology of must read (a)merican poems

Jo Carson


a First Amendment poem

Meaning what I say
is not saying what
I mean and yet I
do not always know
the difference.
I cannot speak
the unspeakable,
I say instead
those things
best left unsaid.
Life is short,
love is unrequited,
the dead do not
take questions.

I can tell this:
there is enough
of truth to offend


Carson is a wonderful Appalachian writer with a voice that is more than real. Her poems and stories rumble in my deepest regions – like a growl in the belly telling the body of its hunger. Her writing always makes me reach for pen and paper to tell life, my way.

A poem is certainly greater than its form or its limitations, and “Storyteller” is sufficient proof for me. The soul of this work needs no explanation – in fact, it defies comment. But it’s all there. Just listen. You’ll hear it.


anhaga said...

Jo deserves wider readerhip.

She gets a lot of leverage behind the deceptively plain-spoken language here, doesn't she? And of course that's the point, the giddy deeps that hide in the plain-spoken.

"Life is short,
love is unrequited,
the dead do not
take questions."

How much potential for grief....

Dennis said...

Sam - Is there a particular collection of Jo Carson you favor? What would you recommend to someone unfamiliar with her work?

Sam of the ten thousand things said...

James, you're absolutely right that she should have a greater readership. The deception of her langauge makes me think of Frost or Stafford.

And Dennis, the collection I'm most drawn to would be Stories I Ain't Told Nobody Yet (Orchard Books, 1989). The last two lines in the volume:

"When I am dead, it will not matter
how hard you press your ear to the ground."

Hum & Aepha said...

oh man, what a remedy. i must seek her out now.

C. E. Chaffin said...

Nice ending. Good to see a contemporary, deductive, closed poem.

Sam of the ten thousand things said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks to h&a and CE for the read.