If Song Was the Aim

—after The Aim Was Song, by Robert Frost




This measured blowing out of notes

and words—the wind the wind had meant

to be. As if our lips and throat—

as if the aim was instrument.


Some temporary map the mouth

makes of the air will never show

the way wind meant to go. No breath

will ever hold; the current flows


toward where we have no right to hear.

If I arrogantly stave

and bar, wind, blow harder! I can’t bear

what I can’t hold. I’d have you cleave


through any measure, heaving rough

and wrong to catch me—any place unsung.

Your calling’s reach—my highest bluff—

teach me the song beyond the song.


Robert Fanning  (he/him/his) is the author of four full-length collections, Severance, Our Sudden Museum, American Prophet, and The Seed Thieves, as well as two chapbooks, Sheet Music and Old Bright Wheel. His poems have been published by Poetry, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, Gulf Coast, Waxwing, THRUSH, The Common, and many other journals. A Professor of English / Creative Writing at Central Michigan University, he is the Founder/Director of PEN/INSULA, an online resource for Michigan poets, and the Founder/Facilitator of the Wellspring Literary Series, where he lives in Mt. Pleasant, MI.