Saturday, November 23, 2013


A language is a living thing.
It breathes and grows and pulses.
It melds with us when we are young.
It’s always at our service.
And yet we are as cells that serve
The mind that lives in language.
How varied are our human tongues,
In rhythms, sounds and structures.
And yet they are projections, each,
Of that, which can’t be spoken.
A language is a living thing
That shifts and sways and dances.
The songs we sing are sung through us.
The singer true is hidden.
But in our speech, we hear it talk.
It lives in us as language.
So every dialect’s the same,
However each may vary.
And that’s because the mind’s the same,
That’s there, in every sentence.
There is a tongue that has no tongue,
And so cannot be heard.
And yet we know that it is there,
By inner sense inferred.
And each of us can feel it speak
In silence, if we listen.
So premonition, like a cat
That walks on velvet feet,
Comes padding by.  A faint “meow”.
We turn -- and it is gone.
A language is a living thing,
And yet, it’s like a shadow
That changes form with time of day,
With latitude and season.
And when the clouds are blowing wild
It vanishes.  We seek it.
And as the sun breaks through the clouds,
It’s born again.  We see it.
We know that it was always there.
So language is a shadow.
While languages, from others born,
May live their spans and fade,
In wanton acts, we murder them
As remnant speakers perish.
So as we kill the species, so
We kill our cultures too.
And what we’ve done is vaunted then
As progress.  Such advances
Bring tears to those remembering
The riches and the nuances.

As we may love a being that
Has a face and limbs and body,
So also we may love a tongue
That’s living or has perished.
As none can substitute for one
Who’s gone, so naught -- for language.
How tender is that love we feel
For a tongue we learned as infants…
How grievous is our loss when we
Have none, with whom to speak it…

As lovers are devoted, so
The poets are to tongues,
For a dialect has its flavor that
No other one can match.
As women have their essences,
So languages have musks.

For even as two siblings might
Have characters apart,
So sister tongues have melodies
As different as birds'.

How humble is a patois,
How regal, classic verse.
Yet each has provenance the same,
Like those, of women birthed.
They rise in rustic habitats
And end as they began.

And urban speech, where finance rules,
Is rapid, clipped and terse,
But where horizons far are seen,
The speech there slows and broadens.

Some languages are musical
And others seem more rough,
But that, imbibed with mother's milk,
For each, is sweet enough.
The lullabies of of mother tongues
Give sustenance to us.

And language can be used to lie,
To subjugate, confuse,
Or it can light the way to truth
And liberate, refute.

Like sea reflecting sky, a tongue
Can alter with our moods.
And so there's speech that's like a gun,
And that which soothes the heart.
But blame this not upon the tongue
Nor give it credit false.

For language is a living thing
That changes as we do.
When madness rules our lives, our tongues
Reflect that madness too.

2013 November 23rd, Sat.
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn


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