top of page

Murray Silverstein

The Case for Punctuation


Periods are gods, semicolons angels, the commas
their wings. It’s the words that are always wrong,

sinful and broken, intoxicatingly other than what
is meant. What does the wound remember?

                        this morning, low tide, the gulls

                                              gliding over the water—

is wrong, but the commas are wings, line breaks
the days of creation:

                                                                       —the gulls

and now the geese, rising as one

                                            to suture the sky—

Periods are gods, the em-dash their prophet, words
the pilgrims on their knees, asking to be forgiven.

András Schiff, After Playing the Preludes Of Johann Sebastian Bach, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco

The hall was here before I played,

so when I say I built the hall, think of the clay


God scoops up, blows breath into

and it becomes a man,


but space not breath, a depth

not there before I played


that holds the whole place up, the piano

my T-square for sounding the deep.


Architecture. The soul’s too free without it

to do us mortal bodies any good,


born back to dirty silence 

as the G major fades.


I tried to make it last, slowly lifting my hand,

but people had to pee and catch a train.

bottom of page