Jeff Burt

Building Blocks

How slow the letter
formed in first cursive,
crab with shell connecting
towering consonants,
a timberline of T and H.
My son’s tongue forms
a tourniquet in muscular effort
to kill the sound,
to keep quiet and express
kinetic relay to his thumb
the imperfect trail
on the solid line not dipped below,
to then release the next slow shape
that always rose, even if destined
to fall like a p or g
or the furtive z.
His tongue works hard,
a puppeteer with tangled strings
yanking, guiding,
twitching, sweeping,
all to make a word,
a first tree tortuously twisted,
ahead an imaginary forest


Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California, with his wife. He works in mental health. He has poems in Rabid Oak, Clerestory, Terrene, Boomer Lit Mag and Mojave Heart Review. He won the 2017 Cold Mountain Review poetry prize.

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