An author signs a book
to affirm the life within.
Written in subconscious code,
it is the soul’s imprimatur.
Note the perfectly formed letters
in Virginia Woolf’s signature, wholly legible
as if meant to show a balanced soul
never at war with itself.
What complexities lurk in the signature
of Edgar Allan Poe, who adorned his letters
with loops and dots, underlined beneath
like a swirling maelstrom.
But why write the whole thing out?
E.E. Cummings, ever the nonconformist,
signed with just his initials,
this time capitalized.
Emily Dickinson used only her first name,
her misshapen letters spaced wide apart,
the ending “y” snaking beneath like a lake of solitude.
Pity she never got to autograph her book.
See how Billy Collins simplifies,
snipping out unnecessary letters,
opening his “B” with a short vertical line
and a drunken sideways “3”
followed by more vertical lines
and occasional dots, the rest
a wave breaking gently
on a welcoming shore.
So I’m working on my signature,
writing in code a squiggly line
I hope will give me
First published in Tipton Poetry Journal #52 – Spring 2022