word for/word
issue 6: summer 2004
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Ken Rumble






from Key Bridge



the bridge bridged the bridgeable river,
bridgely rising from the river

Bridge is. It is.
The bridge exists, is exits,
is exits, exists/is, is exits;
the bridge occupies,
colonizes, engages, conquers, invades, seizes,
maintains, captures, pervades, takes over, storms, grasps, extends, is
time and space --
indivisible time, space, & form: the bridge:
the fluid form of intangibilities.
The bridge is.
Bridge be.
Bridge be bridging.







                      A place to begin,
            a beginning,
a being/in

a place to dam the river still:

black DC
            (chocolate city the man said --
                        (now just night
from Key Bridge, caught between the red glare
and approaching paired stars --
in the city light waves crest on lamp posts,
ripple through the streets,
buildings, trees, cars, clothes, you                                                (river
Here, low southern city
one rode the birth canal to see.
Later this appears (DC/night/Key Bridge)
hair around each nipple.

Here, low southern city
one rode the birth canal to see.
Later this appears (DC/night/Key Bridge)
hair around each nipple.

Think of this:
her name's Jenny, blond, doesn't
like sex in bed, long nipples, fell for you
at a party when you traded lines like fish tales -
her thin cotton dress in ruffles on your belly.

Down the hill from the empty corner lot
the Potomac silent and large like thought.
           (Patowmack the old map reads -
           (not it, me.
                      (I do all the reading in this house.)
Traffic turning from the bridge
into Georgetown twenty feet away -

Jenny says fuck me and you say
yes, yes, yes, you are white, yes, parchment paper white, yes,
without regard for the DC blue,
never have, not walking through
the unknown night hours alone, yes,
not speeding on Whitehurst with ounces of dope,
not as the handcuffs click closed do you
think to be worried, not here, yes,
screwing a woman the color of scotch tape on the roll
at the west end of Georgetown did you think
that if you were seen and black
what a difference that'd make.

(But this is not about race,
as if there was something to be said,
a definitive statement, a talking
instead of something bodily: a looking
at the white space.


Awake all night and finding five am and
the light again. We (meaning me
and who's with me and you walk through
the shrinking fog to the bridge
and call out Go to the misty colored crew teams practicing
in the river below. They pull a few deep strokes, stop,
look up, curse. We giggle,
watch the city breathe in
the yellow shining fog.

(This sinking, swamp built city
with its concrete, cherry trees,
and newspapers swirling in eddies
of wind like loose fish.

Always a river.

Here (USA) we put the name before the thing:
Mississippi river, Snake river, Post Pond, Potomac river

There (the islands) it's the reverse:
River Thames, River Liffey, Loch Ness, Loch Lough, River Cam.





Ken Rumble is the director of the Desert City Poetry Series in North Carolina and list administrator of the the Lucifer Poetics Group. The Key Bridge manuscript was a finalist for Verse Press's 2004 Verse Book Prize and a semi-finalist for the 2004 Slope Editions Book Prize. His poems and reviews have been published in Shampoo, Drunken Boat, Carolina Quarterly, Moria, VeRT, Cross Connect, and others. He collects books of poetry by Leonard Nimoy.

               /    o
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