January O'Neil

The Editor Speaks

There is flow among the elements
on a page. Word buttressing word,
lines asleep on a featherbed of 80-pound stock.
After all, the newsletter you’re reading
is an ecosystem for language,
and there you are preening and sorting
someone else’s natural selection. Your hands part
the cool water of the page’s surface,
splashing letters in your face—
every voluptuous character, every minuscule glyph
rolling down your cheek as beautiful as tears.
Yet all that negative space bends to
the wind’s slightest rustle,
keeping the kerning in sync with the leading,
the tracking aligned with meaning.
Everything gives off a vibration—
just listen to the callout box and what it calls:
Helvetica opens its beak to Galliard,
while the serifs bloom their impossible hues.
They fling themselves against the synapses of the brain,
until something frilled and pithy is born,
something elemental but not original.
The trick is not to care about any of that.
You hold your red pen like a torch
as you run through a forest of thickly settled text
only looking back to see what branches
you have burned.