Poetry Month: The Tip of the Iceberg (Blumenthal)

The Tip of the Iceberg

Say language really does
what it says it does:

That the bird in your hand
is really a bird, that it takes two
to tango, that whoever digs
his own grave will have to sleep in it.
Say you have a fool for a friend,
feckless and dissipated and greedy
beneath the stars, and that it takes one
to know one. Say that might
makes right, that the best offense
is a good defense, that fools rush in
while trepid angels stammer
in front of the doormats. Say
that’s life’s unfair, that that’s
the way it is, that someone tells you
“have a nice day” and really means it.
What would it be like: the word,
reticent and calm, urged out
once again toward its true meaning—
“the worst” really the worst,
“the best” the best, the sum of all
your “everythings” really, now,
everything, even the blurbs
on the back of your own books
as true as their good intentions?
What would it mean if “until death
do us part” really meant until all breath
leaves me, love, if “forever” meant
until the tides cease? What would signify
if “love” could only mean love again,
not just the tip of the iceberg, sinking,
and in all sincerity.

– Michael Blumenthal, in The Bread Loaf Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry (eds. Robert Pack, Sydney Lea, Jay Parini)

Blumenthal has a web page that lists upcoming readings, and Poetry Porch has a selection of his poems online.


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