by Mark Simpson
from the Arabic: a line of slaves or animals
roped together and you begin to understand it,
order from disorder, fear held a bay—
especially held—and eventually
the historical necessity with economic roots
and on your better days you'd leap
from that chair you're sitting in
and cut the ropes that bind
and feel pretty good about it, everyone
free to pursue their own necessity.
I'm not here to praise or blame.
It's just that coffle seems too fluffy.
It seems like something you'd do
playfully with a child, a gentle
kerfuffle or boxing of the ears
and everyone laughs or giggles—
Mom looking out the kitchen window
saying, oh grandpa is just coffling
with the kids—linguistic amelioration,
semantic shift while someone stands there
holding the whipped end of binding rope.
Mark Simpson’s recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sleet (Pushcart Prize nominee), Broad River Review (Rash Award Finalist), Columbia Journal (Online), Third Wednesday, Clackamas Literary Review, and Cold Mountain Review. He lives on Whidbey Island, Washington.