Ars Poetica :: Worm Music

by David Ehmcke

BWR 49.2 Poetry Contest Runner-Up

It was a worm in the mind. It felt 

like a worm in the mind. It was a germ 


of music in the mind 

made muddy with puddles of grief. 


It germinated, made a music 

out of muddy me, splashing 


in puddles of grief that memory made 

once it had had its daily way with me— 


I worried. There was no way 

to say what grief could do 


to me once Daniel left and Liza died 

and all I did was stew 


my worry, fury-like, as my mind 

was curried by the sublime ladle 


that I now call Time. But when I went 

to lick that fickle ladle, I felt 


my violent brainworm writhe— 

I went lithe from the dread of it, 


this disease of song sung 

through me—a refrain that never dies— 


that to this day I can’t describe. Call it 

worm music. Call it beauty.


Call it a phantasmagoric signatory 

whose kiss has stamped 


the suicide note—like a love letter— 

of the corporate mind. 


Because once I said yes 

to a musical life, 


I killed the grief inside me, 

song sated the day that splayed before me 


and the whole world thrived. Yes, my worm 

my nerve, my whole life thrived. 


I chimed, I want to live. 

And so you’ll live— 


my worm sang back. And every morning since 

I’ve sung, I did, I did, I did.

David Ehmcke is an MFA candidate in poetry at Washington University in St. Louis. His work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Peripheries, Cosmonauts Avenue, Hobart, Deluge, The Columbia Review, and elsewhere.