REPLACEMENT FOR WORDS

    
   
Boredom used to be disallowed;
it was for the unimaginative,
for the existentially challenged

for the febrile.
Now I am saturated
with eating, dressing, periodicals,

masturbation, design, weather, peoples
obsessions with ethnic anxieties,
American nostalgia for old versions of Europe,

with purple, and containers.
Let us not have a dog,
not know our history,

nor recognize any influences,
be compelled to disemploy words,
move toward the all-water: inhumanity

—past Germanics, beyond Inuits—
like that creature
with that word:                            distance.

We could replace even him
with spaces,
stillness,

movement.
We can fill
even the idea

of replacement
itself
with ice.

—from Elsewhen © Robert Cowan

ROBERT COWAN is a professor and dean at the City University of New York, and volunteer instructor at Rikers Island Correctional Facility. He is the author of two hybrid-genre collections — Elsewhen (Paloma Press, 2019) and Close Apart (Paloma Press, 2018), and three monographs — Solace in Oblivion (Peter Lang, 2020), Teaching Double Negatives (Peter Lang, 2018) and The Indo-German Identification (Camden House, 2010). 

Other work
Morning Convictions

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