Something

p
o
e
m
s

Drifting across the page that I’m writing on.
Is it the drifting ghost of the cigarette smoke 
From back in the day when I smoked? Is it the voice,

Unbodied, speaking to me, that “fantôme sans os”
Ronsard rising up from the grave tells us he is?
Is it the voice of Enkidu, Tablet Twelve,

Come up through a hole in the Upperworld floor to breathe
Toward Gilgamesh, longing longing to kiss him?
The personal god, breathing upon the page?—

Like everyone else, whenever I want to speak
To somebody else, or else alone in the house,
Alone in my head, it’s hearing my own voice trying,

Trying to say it right, not getting it right,
My own voice breathing towards me, trying to say
How it is, where it is that it’s coming from, down there?

David Ferry is an acclaimed American poet and translator.

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Further Reading

 October 16

Some seventy-two years from the last American execution for desertion, the firing squad is a tough-guy pantomime for hacks and hams.