He purloins words,
plants them in clay pots,
hoards them in mason jars,
hides them in drawers,
stows them between
socks and undershirts.

Sometimes he pets them,
runs his fingers along
their intricate contours,
coaxes puzzle shapes,
forms elongated rosaries
of peonies and bird songs.

But they always escape
like frantic fireflies,
leaving him alone
in a pitch-black room.
Acclaim eludes him,
despite all he has written.

He walks night’s avenues,
uttering weary phrases,
rattles the locks of libraries
in his hunt for more words,
obscure and envious
of the indescribable starlight.