A New Poem from Mr. Hankins: “Simple English” for #SpeakLoudly

“Simple English”

We over-complicate what we mean to say.

When you ask me to diagram my sentences:

I can only identify the subject. . .and the verb.

The person. . .and. . .what he did.

I can a straight line right down the center.

Is this what you were looking for?

And there, I have done it again–ended my sentence with a preposition,

which I am wont to do sometimes like on, over, down, and between.

You ask me  to map out my story:

a pre-write for the post-wrong,

what should I draw first?

Should I stick push-pins at each place on the property

where he did these things?

Or stick those same pins in the places on the property of me,

to show you the places the holes already are,

so as to attach myself again to a mattress like some collection,

with a white tag that reads:

“white male– 9– innocent?”

You want me to conjugate a verb or a series of verbs?


It happened.

It happened.

It happened.

It hurt.

It still hurts.

It will always hurt.

Maybe match some pronouns to their antecedents?






Some pronouns are clear enough to see

right through, even at the kitchen table,

while he drinks coffee. . .me–sitting there

looking at him. I wonder if you suspect.

I am thinking about this:

We are three concrete nouns

sitting at a concrete noun,

drinking from concrete nouns.

It’s a enough concrete to build a prison that will stand.

While I continue to diagram this sentence.

Maybe a simpler language is what I needed,

some “you understood” constructions:




But you would not have understood these,

even when they are all about you.

You are best at alliteration:




And I am still sitting sitting here, some thirty years later.

I cannot diagram a sentence.

It seems I can only serve them.

The hash mark on the wall

is a simple vertical line,

the splits the phrase:

It happened.

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