Questioning the Dead Man


Jordan Smith

  For Marvin Bell

Ask him, and he’ll tell you again.
He has more and more to say about less and less.

In his company, the reticent and the verbose are both abashed;
They envy the virtuosity of his lacunae.

He has redeemed definition from the strata of the dictionary.
Punning, he reassures the etymologically perplexed.

He absolves the unconscious of every forgetful misspelling,
He indulges your pleasure in the repeated joke.

Tell it one more time, and he’ll empty his pockets:
Half-way, then half again, and another half.

Thus, he refutes the paradoxes of motion, of charity.
Without attainment, his generosity knows no end.

When he steps out, it is always from the same river.
Ask him, and he’ll tell you again.

He has less and less to say about more and more.
His memory is just what it used to be.