Issue 5: Independent vs. Representative Voice
A Publication of the USF MFA in Writing Program


Paul Hoover

There was a written stone  
In the unwritten river,  
And written rain was falling  
Over the written town.  
Nothing written today  
But tomorrow I'll be written  
As I sit in my room unwriting.  
This was already written  
When I found it sitting here.  
It never quite escapes  
What it was meant to be,  
A suicide note half written  
Before the act half-done.  
Nothing isn't empty.  
It fills a room so completely  
It spills into the street,  
Which of course looks empty  
Because nothing is there.  
Nothing is filled with nothing,  
Everything comes from nothing.  
Something, poor something,  
Stands vacant at the door.  
A rose opens and opens  
Until its petals fall.  
Then it seems vacant,  
Like a room with one chair.  
Beauty is always vacant.  
We know an object best   
When it starts to disappear.  
Words are here but nothing,   
Meaningful sounds passing  
Then nothing but pleasure.  
Light and space are something  
Passing through the trees.  
A cry is heard in the distance.  
Remembered by your senses,   
It is something briefly  
And then present absence.  
A background seems like nothing  
Until a figure emerges, from what  
Seems the beginning.       
There is no beginning.      
Along with its nothing,   
Something always comes before,  
Receding here, approaching there.  
Only you remain to bring it  
Back from somewhere-  
That shade of blue in the hallway,  
The black depths of water.   
Yellow fires, gray earth, and green   
Of wheat are something:    actors   
Without equal, cock crowing town.  
Everything nature says  
Is ancient, careless, and cruel,   
But it has no concept of nothing.  
It leans against a sunlit wall,  
Projecting casually something.  
A mirror out of doors  
Catches our eye because  
Our eyes are in it, because  
It seems to eye us as part  
Of its nature shining.  
Someone put it there  
To be twice something.  
The overlord language resides  
There, too: a stain, nerve knot,  
With its incessant naming.  
It comes into being, breathes,  
Then goes back out again.  
"What was that?" we ask.  
"Did you hear something?"  
"It was nothing," says the cook.  
"A ghost," insists the chaplain.  
"It was dinner," says the hen,   
So philosophical lately,  
And always about one thing.
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