Though they are not lies they lie upon
the tongue like sticky doom on flies.
(He had not one cruel thought to his name,
the fly, so he was punished, so death came,
his agony spinning clockwise,
his buzz a roaring denial of wrongdoing.)
Though they are not flies, reckless words
can travel far in search oflove or hate
with which to mate in brash midair.
Ebulliance rampant, somehow off-course,
they ricochet and zero in from ear to ear
and tongue to tongue, their paper wings
and foolish wits unable to prevent
crash landing on the tarmac of backyard.
“Reckless Words” was first published in Southwest Review
, Vol. 85, no. 2 (2000), p. 270. It is also included in Dorothea Tanning's book, A Table of Content: Poems
, New York: Graywolf Press, 2004, p. 52, and may not be reprinted without the publisher's permission.