A Poem for the Word Nerds

Loving words has a way of making you unsatisfied.

Today, I was sent this poem by a fellow editor, who seems to understand exactly how I feel sometimes. And in turn, I thought I’d pass it along to you all, in case you ever come across a moment where English punctuation is insubstantial.

Appeal to the Grammarians

by Paul Violi

We, the naturally hopeful,

Need a simple sign

For the myriad ways we’re capsized.

We who love precise language

Need a finer way to convey

Disappointment and perplexity.

For speechlessness and all its inflections,

For up-ended expectations,

For every time we’re ambushed

By trivial or stupefying irony,

For pure incredulity, we need

The inverted exclamation point.

For the dropped smile, the limp handshake,

For whoever has just unwrapped a dumb gift

Or taken the first sip of a flat beer,

Or felt love or pond ice

Give way underfoot, we deserve it.

We need it for the air pocket, the scratch shot,

The child whose ball doesn’t bounce back,

The flat tire at journey’s outset,

The odyssey that ends up in Weehawken.

But mainly because I need it – here and now

As I sit outside the Caffe Reggio

Staring at my espresso and cannoli

After this middle-aged couple

Came strolling by and he suddenly

Veered and sneezed all over my table

And she said to him, “See, that’s why

I don’t like to eat outside.”

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