3p Home Page The Threepenny Review
Fall 2015

The Words

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When they were young, tender-tough, exposed,
desiring experience but not knowing they desired,
words lived in small dense neighborhoods as sounds
without meaning, but street smarts shaped them
into a kind of plainsong that in time cried itself
into language, a pond-scum shape of sentences,
dragonflies, red dragonflies, and toads and reeds,
the longer the sentences, the more the words
wished for and wanted to claim, the more they felt
like stuff, like honeycomb and hair combs,
billyclubs, skinks, cardboard, silks, and concrete,
and soon became the things they said they were,
they imagined living other lives as other things,
like red rivets on bridge towers and the photons
glinting there, or crushed oyster shell and the drive
they cover in some bayou parish, in time the words
became one mind that owned it all, that lived
as if it could be alive with all things all at once,
a dreamed-up city crying sweet throaty noise,
but soon they became lowdown, slutty with desire,
derelict, living off the streets, begging small change,
attaching themselves there, here, and our words,
just like that, become us, they are what we have
and yet still want so badly that it hurts.

—W. S. Di Piero

Simone Di Piero has written many books, the most recent being TOMBO, from McSweeney's. He lives in San Francisco.

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