To the Reader

by Jim Tyack

WHATEVER you see here you can read aloud.
let the words pass like foam through your lips
the foam of fecund seas, glistening on
heat-reflecting sand. The sand can be

a carpet or even a bare, hardwood floor.
Turn the fan on, perhaps a tall, ice tea
with mint and fresh lime, sit back, read on.
If you find an error, anywhere, correct it,

touch it up like a painter would touch up
a cloud that might look too much like a face,
or an extension of the tree-line behind some hills.
I don't think John Ashberry would let you

fix any of his lines, but go ahead, be my guest.
If you don't like the sound of a word,
or have a problem with a particular image,
feel free to make a change. For instance,

in line three you see fecund seas, now that
might not appeal to you. Looking back on it,
I'm not very happy with it either. Let's axe it.
The foam and the lips as well. In fact,

if you lopped away the entire beginning
I wouldn't really mind, but please put something
in its place, something with which I might agree.
Okay, let's get started. Maybe fix the end too.

(Previously published in A Limousine to Nowhere (Street Press, 1994)).

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