oPen 7

Rain_window_artlebedev Here’s an exercise in erasing.  Take this poem by George Oppen.  White out all the words until you have eleven left.  Post your eleven word poem below, if you dare.

World, World—

Failure, worse failure, nothing seen
From prominence,
Too much seen in the ditch.

Those who will not look
Tho they feel on their skins
Are not pierced;

One cannot count them
Tho they are present.

It is entirely wild, wildest
Where there is traffic
And populace.

‘Thought leaps on us’ because we are here. That is the fact of the matter.
Soul-searchings, these prescriptions,

Are a medical faddism, an attempt to escape,
To lose oneself in the self.

The self is no mystery, the mystery is
That there is something for us to stand on.

We want to be here.

The act of being, the act of being
More than oneself.

George Oppen
Copyright © by George Oppen.


  1. a bit depressing, but I was just watching a thing about Iraqi civilian casualties:
    The world in the ditch;
    skins pierced;
    One cannot count them

  2. Maybe my mood, but shaking off the mortal coil is in my mind so I ended up with this:
    pierced wild traffic, these medical skins
    To escape, the soul leaps

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