Tom Sawyer On The Fence

You ask me
what I would write in a message
to be placed in a bottle
and sent to sea: what would I say,
to whom would I want it said?

I say to you:
content here
will be governed by
process.  To answer that
I must know

the bottle’s color, heft,
its material,
its origin.
I must know how it will be
stoppered against filling

and sinking,
its message
dissolving into the ocean
long before reaching 
its addressee.  I must know

on what kind of paper
I am to write,
with what I am to write —
and where am I to be
when I toss the bottle to sea

in an act
of desperation
or hope or pure
ridiculous artistry, which 
can be all of the above

if need be.  Tell me enough
to go on if you can’t say it all
or if you don’t know it all and I
will write it all down, every word of it

for as long as it takes to tell.
I’ll sit here with the pen and the paper.
I’ll fold and roll the pages when done.
I’ll answer your question then, hand you the 
pages, hold the bottle

as it dawns on you what has just happened.
Will you laugh or will you cry? I don’t care.
Content is determined by process,
after all, and process is my job, my only job.  
I think sometimes it is the only job there is.


About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

3 responses to “Tom Sawyer On The Fence

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