Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tender Mercies

This is what the poem below looks like when put through the "Wordle" device at http://www.wordle.net/ . . . (click on the image to see a full-screen version). I've been thinking about lies. And truth.




Tender Mercies

White lies, chewed-up lies, maple sugar lies,
spiked lies, post-colonial lies, lies that curl your hair.
I’ve heard them all: drunken lies, sorry-ass lies,

paper-maché lies, lame lies, lies that beat you
with an ugly stick. Lies that roll on their backs
in front of you, begging you to believe them.

Iron lies that anchor in your gut and drag
along the bottom, rip up oyster beds,
scatter pearls in the muck. Oh those

sexy lies who seduce you with your own
terrible need, stroke the small of your back
with their black leather falsehoods, baby lies

with big brown eyes and pouty lips to match,
good-hearted lies that never meant to hurt anyone
with that switchblade … tell me, where

would we be without the lyric lie, the loving lie,
the lie told to save a life? The lesser-of-two-evils
lie? The what-you-don’t-know-can’t-hurt-you

lie? What is a lie, anyway, but an arrangement
of language to fit the occasion, like shifting
furniture to suit a room? What is a lie

but a storyteller’s best friend, a suave tale
that slicks back its words, leans
on the threshold of your heart, fits

into you like key to lock? I’ll tell you
the truth: like a prayer, every good lie
needs a believer to survive.
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