As I wrote in December, I redesigned my reading life in 2019. The plan was to read only the work of twenty select authors, some living, some dead. The point was to read slower, giving myself space to reflect and respond rather than just plowing through pages for the sake of a reading goal.

Well, there’s been mixed success. Turns out grad school tends to dominate one’s reading life no matter what, so I’ve barely cracked a novel open in several weeks, and I’m no better than I was in December at reading slowly when I do pick one up. 

But I’ve had some isolated success, including a poem I wrote in response to Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.” Borges describes a fictional language that completely lacks nouns, and I tried to work out what this might mean in practice. I’m quite sure it’s not a great poem, but it’s one of the few times this year I’ve turned someone else’s words into my own just for fun.

So, without further ado, I present “Snowstorm in Southern Tlön.”

P.S. For the purposes of this poem, gerunds aren’t nouns. Don’t at me.


Ensparkled and ensnared with the falling and the whirling,
Glowing with brightened breathing, whitened gleaming,
Dancing with dottings, it shivers, it roars.

Inside the everwarming, it is feared and beloved,
Watched for snowstruck worsening, hoped in and faithed in,
Promising first to amaze, then, embracing, to end.

Beyond, outblocked, it hells.
It tricks and slicks, its blinding blowing banishes,
Its frosty numbing ambushes.

But the blocking crumbles, or always has crumbled.
The beloving and be-icing mingle and refreeze,
The warming scattered, shared, and so lost.

Soon, the finding and refiring—but not reblocking.
Rather the breathing, the falling and the whirling,
Enchanted, encrystalled, ensparkled, ensnared.


  1. Kyric Koning

    I think it was exactly as a poem should be, emotional and thought-provoking. Taking away the nouns lent it an abstract quality perfect for the latter. Well done.

  2. Kate Parsons

    Josh, you elevate this blog! I always appreciate your creative challenges

  3. Ansley Kelly

    Josh I love this! How fun!


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