New Language

If I could birth new language

Would I stick to the same contours

the same meadows I’ve wandered in

because I suffer obsessions with the

the swish of the ‘s’

the infinitude of the ‘o’

the softened curve of the ‘f’

the sharp points of the ‘t’

because we never lose taste

for our obsessions


Would I resculpt

and chip the same faults

that belly the expanses of my mother tongue

Taken by imperfection would I engrave them into tradition

Would I teach my lips

to curve the same

or yield them for efficiency

prime them for melody


Would I remember to put pen to paper

in memory of all those languages

solely exchanged on

the flex of lips

Would I let my language evolve

or would I cage it into dictionaries

and the thick lines of grammar


Would my language know

what tongue spoke it first

what tongue taught it love

held its hand through the connotations

pausing to see how easily fear

and anger

fit along the same edges



Would I let my language be spoken

by those who saw it as a weapon

saw my ridges, carefully defined

and saw bombs

Would I let them take my words

for their own use

borrowing words for their own languages

wrung dry


what lies on the ruins of words no longer spoken

what words we throw out with intention

casting them like long fishing lines

and which words we have to remember to push away

vestiges of times no longer

and which ones fade

the slow progression of

collective memory


Languages aren’t meant

to live forever


[Featured in Marin Teen Poetry Anthology]


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