“Frame,” an apparently simple poem

These next few weeks I wish to present in these pages a few of the poems making up my new, second book of poems Lost & Found: Poems Found All Around

And use them to illustrate a few of the poetic qualities I’d like to suggest in these poems.

Here’s the very first poem in the book, “Frame,” in the first section (“Words, Words, Words”) of eight sections that the book comprises.

Frame
By way of epigraph

I put a frame around it
so I can say I found it,
so I can say it’s yours and mine
for this brief space of time.

By itself this poem may not look like much; but as an introduction to the book, it announces a couple of important themes and sets the tone for the whole.

It’s brief, obviously. So, as far as selection goes, there’s not too much I’ve put in the poem … or risked overloading it with. But the briefness, or tautness, I think, suggests more than initially meets the eye.

The quatrain announces that I’m framing the whole book, or approach to the book, in terms of the themes of art and mortality. Here is a group of found poems (77 in all) that well might have been lost to time and attention had they not been assembled and packaged here. Bits of language, I mean, that I’ve gathered up and put inside the frame of a book. Yes, they existed outside the book β€” in other books, articles, newspapers, fragments of speech that once hung in the air β€” but are here gathered up and framed, and so presented as a whole, for the first, and only, time.

And why do such a thing? Why beg, borrow, steal bits and pieces of discourse from such varied sources? 

… so I can say it’s yours and mine
for this brief space of time.

The collection is not others’ now, not the original authors’, editors’, speakers’. Nor is it mine, the poet’s, exclusively. It belongs to you as well as me. It’s shared discourse or communication we’ve arranged between us through our efforts of writing and reading. 

And what good does this exercise do us? 

You may have to read more of the book to know. Or to tell me what you think of our mutual efforts. For my part, I think the communication even here, in this one stanza, is a communion too, something that unites us, for a moment, in “this brief space of time,”  not necessarily anything sacred or transcendent but the time we spend reading and writing, the time of our lives, which is not simply the empirical continuum, the line that ends in death for us all, of course, the flat line of our end, but is the time-space continuum in which our lives begin, endure, encompass so much, and end.

You think I’m stretching it here β€” the thin red line of this simple-looking quatrain? Maybe so, but I was trained in reading and writing literature and literary criticism. There’s a lot that can be seen in a short poem like this if the words chosen are well chosen and somehow point to common human ends and enterprises.