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FURTHER READING
Poems about Language
Anxieties
by Donna Masini
Avoid Adapting Other People's Negative Views
by Sharon Dolin
Etymological Dirge
by Heather McHugh
Having Words
by Alfred Corn
I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone
by Rainer Maria Rilke
I Want the Certainty of Love in Another Language
by Christie Ann Reynolds
Lines on Nonsense
by Eliza Lee Follen
Making It Up As You Go Along
by Bin Ramke
Onomatomania
by Thomas Lux
Past Inclemency & Present Warmth
by Eryn Green
please advise stop [I was dragging a ladder slowly over stones stop]
by Rusty Morrison
Poem
by James Schuyler
Primitive State [excerpt]
by Anselm Berrigan
Series
by Geoffrey G. O'Brien
The Composition of the Text
by Adriano Spatola
The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart
by Jack Gilbert
The Long Hand Wishes It Was Used
by Jackie Clark
The Translator's Dilemma
by Ann Lauterbach
The World Seems…
by Gregory Orr
Time Study
by Marvin Bell
Tonight No Poetry Will Serve
by Adrienne Rich
Water Music
by Robert Creeley
What Is an Epigram?
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Yes
by Denise Duhamel
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Reduction

 
by Page Starzinger

Vestigial leavinges
and fragmentes.

These. However: whole—
         like us
a piecing together;

         Recovered
or a kind of gluing,
like dinosaurs from Hell Creek Formation,
with soft tissue and blood vessels inside
         femurs.

Recursive
is not the point, not even
Chomsky’s theory—embedding entities
within like entities—a tree structure.
Because the most powerful ancient

Amazon cultures, who resist
change, have no stories
for what came before. There, prosody—present tense:
woman winding raw
cotton, child at her feet, singing

a series of notes,
like a muted horn (what
sounds).
         What

is not enough about this? Could we fall prey

to transcendence,
and reduce, to a point that is
fugitive; you are at the tip

of my tongue, then
not. Just like a leaf drifting
out of the picture. It’s called

xibipio
not simply gone,
but out of experience. Of Christ
they ask: Have you met
         him?
About this poem:

"I was inspired by an Amazonian tribe, the Pirahă, whose language is only of observable experience, and who speak in a kind of prosody, with variations of pitch, stress and rhythm. There are no fixed words for colors; instead they use descriptive phrases that change from one moment to the other. If someone walks around a bend in the river they are xibipio—gone out of experience. Their non-recursive language challenges the established linguistic theories on what is considered uniquely human, and I love that."

—Page Starzinger






Copyright © 2013 by Page Starzinger. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on August 13, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
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