David Kirby



1 “The Diet of Worms” is a poem containing no words. Historically, the Diet of
Worms was an imperial diet or assembly convened in 1521 to determine how
authorities should respond to the teachings of Martin Luther. It was held in the
German town of Worms; hence the name. Those not familiar with that event might
assume that the title of this poem refers either to a nutritional regimen consisting
entirely of vermicular organisms or a regimen of foodstuffs typically consumed by
such organisms. Readers are invited to fill the blank space above with a poem of their
own making on any of these three options. Other choices include writing a poem
based on a different or entirely unrelated reading of the title. Too, this space might be
used for any of the traditional purposes to which scraps of paper are put, such as
serving as a drink coaster or grocery list. One might hand this page to a restive child
and suggest that he or she draw on it. Petitions to saints may be recorded here and left
on an altar; those whose religion forbids writing the name of the deity will be happy
to see that has not happened here. Alternatively, readers might simply contemplate the
untouched space and follow their mental wanderings as audience members do at a
performance of John Cage’s 4′ 33″, a three-movement composition for any
instrument or number of instruments, the score of which instructs the musician or
musicians to not play their instruments during the entire piece, which lasts for the
length of time indicated in its title. Use additional sheets as necessary.