It's not a poem unless it's seen

It’s not a poem unless it’s seen

It’s not a machine unless home-grown.
It’s not a phone unless it types by horse.
It’s not a hearse unless you get out born.
It’s not a greenhorn unless it blows.

It’s not a rose if it smells like glass.
It’s not a pass if you fail to kiss.
It’s not a miss if you knock it out.
It’s not a parka if it’s sprayed on.

It’s not a tan if you wash it off.
It’s not a cough if you want it to be.
It’s not a bee if it floats like a bag.
It’s not a nag if there’s no dream.

It’s not a scream if you smile.
It’s not a mile if seven leagues.
It’s not cigs if you’re running rings.
It’s not a song if you speak.

It’s not weak if it is song.
It’s not wrong if you write it down.
It’s not a clown if it won’t mime.
It’s not rhyme if you can’t recall.

It’s not small if it fits in your head.
It’s not dead if it stands up to pee.
It’s not me if you dream it instead.
It’s not lead if gold in them hills.

It’s not pills if you don’t feel better.
It’s not a sweater if a garter snake.
It’s not cake if no ice cream.
It’s not a beam if no deep mote.

It’s not a quote without fingers.
It’s not singers if they faked.
It’s not a lake if no lady.
It’s not shady if you start to blister.

It’s not sister if no kid.
It’s not id if you forget the ego.
It’s not meagre if lots of plenty.
It’s not mentis without compos.

It’s not piss without the taking.
It’s not making unless there’s breaking.
It’s not talking unless you listen.
It’s not glisten unless light.

It’s not sight unless a Milton.


from England Is Mine (DC Books, 2011), © Todd Swift 2011, used by permission of the author

Recordings

Todd Swift

Todd Swift Reading from his poems

2After riding the escalator back

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1A Ceremony of Carols at Cripplegate

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3Ballad of the Solitary Diner

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4Down from St John's Wood

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5Emperor

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6For the Boy in the Choir With Tourette's

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7French Poem

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8Gentlemen of Nerve

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9God has left us like a girl

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10Green Girl in Vermont

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11Hope, Maida Vale

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12I Think of Delmore Schwartz, Beside My Sleeping Love

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13In My Father's Briefcase

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14It's not a poem unless it's seen

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15Ivo, Marianopolis, 1984

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16Jean Talon, Intendant of New France, To The King

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17Library Going

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18Near St Ives

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19New Theology

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20Note to the Editor

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22Slieve Donard

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21Rainbow in Blackrock

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23Sonnet

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24Suitor

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25Taking Tea with Charles Bernstein

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26That Girl in Autumn

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27The Ailment

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28The Call

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29The More Deserved

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30The Recording Artist

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31The Safe Years

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32The White Kitchen

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33These Days

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34Tomsk

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35Trees

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36Water, Running

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37When all my disappointments came at once

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38Woman at a Station

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