“The Existential Self” by Willie James King

Willie James King


Once in a while an owl barks
above the black bog, and I turn
another page of a big book
that was written by a Russian
who tells an interesting tale
about a woman who cheats
on her husband, and who throws
herself before a train. If not a knife
or a gun, who hasn’t thought of
leaping from some point that’s final,
if only no more than a moment.
Outside, the wind moans
like a brooding woman
who is in constant conversation
with that owl as both know
the night is theirs. I put aside
the huge text to turn a phrase
that might become a poem, that
might capture my feelings, only as
close as words can come to naming,
or exacting the existential self

from Rattle #18, Winter 2002
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