Symbols Don’t Mean Beans

I.

You can sell your
birthright for porridge;
you can sell your cow
for beans—

Somehow, somehow
symbol will eat
your lunch, and the
heavy boat of metaphor

will sink in as meta
-phors do do. Leave
you gasping for air.

II.

Symbols don’t
go away nicely:
We try to chuck
them with words,

words, words,
but symbols—
like old tires,
like fan belts—

don’t rot. When
that’s over and
done we’ll name
it brand new.

III.

Symbols don’t
go away nicely.

What do you read?
Words, words.

What’s the matter?
The matter?

IV.

Symbols don’t
go away nicely—

they say who
is in, who out;

who gets hurt,
who gets

the beans. What
do the symbols

mean, I mean, when
used out loud and

for something?
Who gets ahead?

Who gets hurt?
What does it matter?

V.

Symbols dead
and buried
come back
ready to kick
ass again.

Perceptions—
what do
they say
“yes” to,
“no” to?

Meanings.
What will
they start
and put a
stop to?

Vi.

Symbols don’t
go away nicely.
Don’t go away
at all. And one’s

freedom is
another’s cell,
n’est-ce pas?

What are the
thoughts set

stirring? What are
the symbols
marching about?

Who tells the story?
Who is listening?

Who’s left out?
Who’s hurt? What
power and which
prisons?

VII.

If you ain’t
got beans 
you don’t
throw ‘em 
in a pot.

VIII.

Symbols don’t
go away nicely.

& even then
watch ‘em

come back.

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