Oh Well


It was 36 words by Jill Alexander Essbaum.

The poem triggers a flapping of the heart valves, they are a-flutter.

But incongruence is the uninvited house guest that won’t separate.

Heart is warmed, it feels. Head is cold, it needs to Know, to Understand.

So I fill my hands with the shards of infinite ardors.
A generous cargo of ohs and oh wells.
And a strange half-wish to be a ghost.

It is the thing I wish for most.

I work to bootstrap meaning.

Heart basks in “fill” and “hands” and “shards” and “infinite” and “ardors.”

Head jumps to “cargo,” “half-wish” and “ghost.”

Head begins to spin, to whirl – in Iyers jet lag. “Not quite on the ground…yet not entirely off it…I’m squinting; everything gets through to me, but with the wrong weight or meaning. I can’t see the signs, only their reflections in the puddles. I can’t follow the story, the arc of character, but something else — that inflection of a hand, this unregarded silence — comes through to me intensely.”

I circle and circle and circle over Essbaum, in a holding pattern, but I’m not clear to land.

I don’t get it.

But it comes through intensely.

Oh well.



  1. Incongruity as an uninvited yet permanent guest – oh yeah.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It does come through intensely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sublimely subliminal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I often find poems like that — I enjoy them, yet I don’t quite “get” them. So I let instinct take over and get what I can. Even if it’s a bit crooked…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, well. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes. That struggle to “get it.” Meaning comes close, then dances away. What?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mmmmm very deep Mr Kanigan. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It’s simple, David. The head doesn’t need to get everything. You can still get it. Just feel it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t understand it either..I can only come up with this stretch of my imagination…This makes me think of an art exhibit on opening night. She had such passion and no limits when she created… and now her ceramic piece on display, gets bumped and breaks, shattering into fragments of colorful, shards… she gathered the forever changed piece of expression in shocked, disappointment and grief…I wonder if the half ghost comment means she’d like to be the proverbial fly on the wall, undetected, so she could hear what people where saying?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. just like it as it is, not trying to out-think it and i like it.

    Liked by 1 person

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