At the Funeral of the Grammar Handbook

by Martha Silano

Gertrude Stein wore a smoked veal suit
with matching herring bone shoes.
The semicolon and the comma

were overrated anyway, she said.
Said the world’s paragraph
was mostly dirt, cumbersome dirt,

copious silence. Told me to
pickle my adjectives, brine
my prepositional phrases. Because

a definition is like a division dividing,
a surface surfacing, a bather bathing,
the dictionary hates the thesaurus.

Ol ‘ Gertrude of the necktie, which she
defended for its entangled thickness,
for its keeping her from turning to distress.

I saw you dear Gertrude, out of my singular,
stigmatized eye, genuflecting to the obligation
of making sentences, rectangular ribbons of sense.

Martha Silano’s books include Reckless Lovely and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, both from Saturnalia Books, and, with Kelli Russell Agodon, The Daily Poet: Day-By- Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, New England Review, and American Poetry Review, among others. Martha edits the Seattle-based journal Crab Creek Review and teaches at Bellevue College. More of her work can be found at