Tom Montag’s books of poetry include: Making Hay & Other Poems; Middle Ground; The Big Book of Ben Zen; In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013; This Wrecked World; The Miles No One Wants; Love Poems; and Seventy at Seventy. His poem “Lecturing My Daughter in Her First Fall Rain” has been permanently incorporated into the design of the Milwaukee Convention Center. He blogs at The Middlewesterner. With David Graham he recently co-edited Local News: Poetry About Small Towns.
The square of the hypotenuse
equals the sum of the squares of
its two adjacent sides. That is
what this painting means. Emptiness
is everything divided by
nothing. If you keep asking
what a poem means, soon
you will come, as painting does, to
line and shape and color, patterns,
the rhythm of a tongue in love.
What does this have to do with the
woman in the painting? Love is
desire divided by loss.
Loneliness is a certain hum
of color the air gives off. Either
the painting speaks to you, either
the poem speaks to you, or not.
A bucket contains all bucket-
ness and that’s what you need to know.