“My mother taught me this trick: if you repeat something over and over again it loses its meaning.
For example: homework, homework, homework, homework, homework, homework, homework, homework, homework.
See, nothing.
Our existence, she said, is the same way.
You watch the sunset too often, it just becomes 6PM.
You make the same mistake over and over; you’ll stop calling it a mistake.
If you just wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, one day you’ll forget why…
..Nothing is forever, she said
My parents left each other when I was 7 years old
Before their last argument they sent me off to the neighbor’s house,
like some astronaut jettisoned from the shuttle.
When I came back there was no gravity in our home, beds floating
I imagined it as an accident, that when I left
They whispered to each other “I love you” so many times over
that they forgot what it meant
Family, family, family, family, family, family
My mother taught me this trick
If you repeat something over and over again it loses its meaning
This became my favorite game
It made the sting of words evaporate.
Separation, separation, separation;
see, nothing
Apart, apart, apart;
see, nothing
I am an injured handyman now
I work with words all day
Shut up, I know the irony!
When I was young, I was taught that the trick to dominating language
was breaking it down
Convincing it that it was worthless
I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you;
See, nothing
Soon after my parents’ divorce, I developed a stutter
Fate is a cruel and efficient tutor
There is no escape in stutter
You feel the meaning of every word drag itself up your throat
S-s-s-separation
Stutter is a cage made of mirrors
Every “Are you ok?”
Every “What’d you say?”
Every “Come on kid, spit it out”
Is a glaring reflection you cannot escape
Every terrible moment skips upon its own announcement
Over and over until it just hangs there,
floating in the middle of the room
Mom, Dad,
I am not wasteful with my words anymore.
Even now after hundreds of hours of practicing away my stutter,
I still feel the claw of meaning in the bottom of my throat.
I have heard that even in space;
You can hear the scratching of a
I-I-I-I love you.

—Phil Kaye

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