on the page magazine

issue no. 11, summer 2004


The Red Ink

by Janet McCann

The red ink will not
make poems, instead it writes
Dangling Participle, Comma Fault.
Should an image slip out, right away
it is crossed out, a red circle around it.
The red ink really lusts after figures,
neat columns of them, it would always
make them come out even, but condemned
to this imprecise science full of blurs
and blots, never will write a sentence
but wants to overwrite what's there already
and shout out orders in margins. The red ink
is a tinpot dictator, blowing
its little trumpet. Do not obey it.
Answer back in mauve and fuchsia,
peacock blue, burnt sienna. Whisper
or bray your own sweet colors. Pay
no attention to the stern red ink.

Janet McCann has been a professor at Texas A&M University in the Department of English since 1969 and has been published in the Kansas Quarterly, Parnassus, Nimrod, Sou'wester, New York Quarterly, Tendril, Poetry Australia and McCall's. She has co-edited two anthologies, Odd Angles of Heaven (1994) and Place of Passage (now in press with Story Line.) Her most recent book is Looking for Buddha in the Barbed Wire Garden (1996). She was awarded a NEA Creative Writing fellowship in 1989.

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