A Selection from To Be Self-Evident


only by finding the counterpoint, the fiddle
the mandolin the tangle of three voices
music that will ride in the balance of many choices
love that will take an answer from the riddle

only by squawking, only by lining up
all you can on one side of the argument,
by your own faith, by hitting the pavement
no matter what, by drumming to a different step:

to speak in the echoing of long silence,
to sing what could not be spoken, what you swallow
what you hold in until you know
the clear dead weight we each one come against

to stand where another stood, where others went
to celebrate, yes to be self-evident


segments of an orange, each step in a long process
one hand at the edge of a ladder the migrant worker
the vegetable salad, grape, tomato, lettuce
the vitamin fiber the truck driver the packer

I hear voices & anger along the fence
moving as one in boycott, in bitter strike
the twisting dangerous struggle of love & violence
a picket line a union no fear can break

de soledad unity we all have hunger for,
matter moves toward itself the spirit does likewise
build systems of balance to spin in space
a poem molecular bacilli a congress a door

at this time I am a lens you look through
I am one on earth talking with you


sparrows on a fence-wire in a row,
each of the elements that took shape
before the earth could grow, before anyone could videotape
chloroplast & mitochondria turning in the cell

the red shift in the spectrum, the measure the weight
that bends & changes time & fear & hope, the protein spiral
a leaf repeats, the ozone rafter
I reach out love to you & hold love back
the possible curve of the universe, circular, elliptic

water the color of silver sky
redwing bird on a cattail; red river
colorado salt knife in the desert; jade tree
that learned to hold water; human laughter
cactus & aloe in my window light

                                           -- Tom Parson

finalist, 2002 Colorado State Book Awards