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Image by Erik Karits


the madrigal, volume v

Aphasia in the 20th Century

by robert mccarthy

Marvelous the deliberate poverty
of his posthumous texts. Constant, uncanny
intrusions of such ineffable stuff:
White-space gagging; mouth tremors; sequences
of surds. Words smashed apart, syllable
litter, mattock-hacked to inaudible
mutter; tongue-clenched clicks, a metronomic

Language left him, but not as would a lover,
disappointed, or who had found a better
utterer, suaver rhetor of bespoke
stitching, in every rift its load of ore.

No, the words crept away in failure; their
tools blunted. Bunco chisels. Awls of Minerva
taking twilight flight.

                              Too exquisite the things
he’d been straining to say, as if each nerve,
having been touched, now demanded its own
Nuremburg. Unsepultured words were needed,
angel-guarded, fire-annealed, resurrected.
What human tongue could speak this fallen world?


Disinter the graves in the air? Shovel
the meatsmoke from the blackmilk sky? No verse
sufficient to redeem the scavenged dead,

winnow their flesh from furnace foul-and-slag.

Bunged-up earthworks (signs, tokens, lexemes, keys),
razor-wire behind which the prime rhymes
strut and glare, floodlit to keep the language
from deserting; from doffing its uniform;
slipping away; vinciably ignorant;
blending, with perfect deniability,
into the ashen, unspeakable air.

Robert McCarthy is a writer living in New York City. He prefers to use formal means to achieve lyric ends. Robert has published poetry in The Alchemy Spoon and Dreich Magazine. His work has also appeared in Yours, Poetically and Neologism Poetry Journal; as well as in Words & Whispers, Celestite Poetry, Fahmidan Journal, and in Version(9).

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