Literacy Test

Alec Johnsson, Haverford College

I started with a white page on which black is written
And the man told me, if you don’t want to be in the margins, get rid of the margins, shove 
     them off the page as you would a sleigh, it’s that simple 
Fill in the empty lines, the empty spaces next to the lines at which words shudder in 
     temerity, the empty spaces between the lines 
Fill in the vacancies between words, after periods, before commas, colons, semicolons, 
     the pauses between parentheses, brackets, braces, pipes 
If you can still read this, you’re failing, you’re doing it wrong, you’re wasting all the 
     white 
Books have too many pages in them today, too much white, so use it until there’s no 
     more left 
Fill in the enigmas below the quotes, above and below the hyphens, on both sides of the
     slashes, the slender crevasses between the lines 
Conserve paper, write and color as much as you can on this one page until it’s used up 
     and whatever’s written there is unreadable 
Fill in the tents, breasts, concavities, convexities, stories, scaffolds, swirls, headquarters, 
     phalanxes, hooks, prisms, scissors, mazes, nooks, orifices, flags, swimming pools,
     rims, sinews, lean-tos, tubs, goose wings, craters, crosses, ambiguities and zebra
     stripes 
Vary the inks, include white, fill in the white, the black, all the inks 
Fill in the corridor of air above the page  
So I created a fractal of language, used all the words I know 
Wrote all that needs to be said, must be said, wanted to be said 
But I also left room to breathe

Alec Johnsson, a native of White Plains, NY, is a member of the Class of 2015 at Haverford College (PA), where he majors in English and minors in Anthropology. He works for the Lambda Literary Foundation and writes film reviews and other stuff on his blog, Hydroplaning to Byzantium.

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