Gerunds running down my leg

First, verbs began to collide,
in novels, no less. It was clear
the English Department running

the universe should assert itself.
Hope for writing no longer lay
in prepositions, slender adjectives

and strappingly comely adverbs
marching like linguists
toward a rigid master language --

erect, proud, but accidentally,
on occasion, flaccid, surely predicting
very many adverbs more. Then,

participles, multiplying like termites,
eating life out of whole sentences,
lolling about with infinitives --

themselves claiming to be verbs,
weasels trying to reject all nounhood --
brought total impotence to sonnets,

villanelles, even 3-act plays.
Swaying over the blank hole of verse,
I felt gerunds running down my leg.



Timothy Pilgrim