The Origins of Poetry

by Kevin Honold

Archaeologists claim that chance nicks
around the rim of a clay drinking bowl
may have suggested meter to a pair of postglacial
deadbeats squatting in one of the less respectable caves,
eating burnt beans, damning the insufferable pride

of the mammoth-killers, what with their fancy skins
and women and stuff. On a night like tonight,
philologists say, when thunder
clouted the mountains, it was someone’s idea to chant
to someone else’s idiot rocking.

Many learned doctors supposes rhyme
has its source in a singsong charm recited over and over
to ward off your mischievous influence.
Now I agree that intellect and memory had to be repressed
if we were to retain a modicum of sanity—that’s why

we learned the advantages of words, I think. I mean,
when the thing that inhabited the sky before god
spent stormy nights striking stones
for its miserable fire, somebody had to do it.
O, Moon. Are you even listening to me?

Kevin Honold was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1969. His first book of poetry, Men as Trees Walking, won The Journal/Ohio State University Press prize in 2009.