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Washington Post: Poet's Choice 2010 
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Post Washington Post: Poet's Choice 2010
I thought I'd start a new thread for the Poet's Choice for the new year. Enjoy!



Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:24 pm
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Post Jan. 3, 2010
Poet's Choice: 'Temple Beth Israel' by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

By Gabrielle Calvocoressi
Sunday, January 3, 2010;



In the spring of my 13th year, my mother took her life. It's not an unusual story, though that seems unusual to say. She had been ill my whole life and was, in some ways, a ghost the entire time I knew her. Now I can use terms like "borderline personality disorder." Back then there was just a mother who was sometimes home drinking TAB but more often gone, in some nameless hospital.

What was it she wanted that I wanted too? Often the answer was: for God to hear me. My mother wanted that, and as she got sicker, it seemed to be all she wanted. Sometimes she thought God did hear her, and sometimes his absence made her home feel so full of nothingness that I can't remember what happened. After she died, I tried to stop believing. It wasn't until I was asked on a radio show what I did instead of keeping a journal and said, "Pray" that I realized I'd never stopped speaking into and with that deep silence.

My collection of poems "Apocalyptic Swing" contains faith and violence and all manner of music. One of those poems, "Temple Beth Israel," takes its name from a synagogue that was bombed in the summer of 1964. It considers faith and doubt co-existing in a world that does not welcome all of us. It is a letter about learning and risking joy in the face of tremendous loss. A love letter to a world in which faith and hope are unconquerable because they are boundless.


Temple Beth Israel


I thought I would write to you about the bombings


Of all those churches and temples in the South.



But instead I took a corner and there


Like the sun I wake to in this distant city



A boy resplendent in his yarmulke and Lakers


Jacket. It has happened before but we are almost



Champions now. In the arena, on the radio,


On every school bus there is the song of our city



Winning something. He was no higher than


My chest, heaving from a run as I tried to burn



Off a night of restless dreams. I thought


I would write about the people standing on the corners



In the midst of all that rubble and destruction


But here are the fathers carrying their sons to shul



And my legs are moving like I always dreamt they could.


If I talk to you amidst all this traffic and choose



To speak of joy instead of the suffering of so many,


People laughing in the streets: Shenandoah, La Cienega,



Doheny with its schools and girls in their long skirts


Does it make this less of a poem? How do we make a world



When so many don't want us here? Here are the boys


In their black suits and golden jackets. Here are the hills



Dry from months with no rain. Here I am learning


To read again. We sound the alarm and it is as sweet



As it is sorrowful. Our hands are in the air. We are running.


We are using our legs. We are holding buckets of water



And bright flags. We wear jerseys with the names of temporary


kings upon them. We are breathing. We are breathing.


We are almost champions now.

Gabrielle Calvocoressi is the author of "The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart" and "Apocalyptic Swing."



Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:25 pm
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Post January 10, 2010
Poet's Choice: 'Thirty Illegal Moves in the Cloud-Shape Game' by Aaron Belz

By Aaron Belz
Sunday, January 10, 2010;

The Apostle Paul wrote, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." Because I am interested in the way children make sense of the world, this statement has always intrigued me. A child sees language itself as a novelty; beyond that, a child must begin to understand the rules that govern its relationships with other people, from the most intimate and developed, to the official and institutional, to hundreds of casual encounters with strangers. Children soon discover that the system is complex and sometimes inconsistent. After about 25 years, a normal, well-adjusted adult has the rules by rote, and language has long ago become mundane.

So there's a problem on both ends. While for children the world is disorienting and full of wonder, for adults it's too familiar and predictable, full of groceries, cable bills and therapists. Writing poetry helps me bridge the gap. I find an immense amount of energy in discussions I have with my own children -- the oldest is now 11 -- and many of my poems derive from those discussions. A couple of years ago my youngest daughter and I were playing the "Cloud Shape Game," and she pointed to one rather amorphous cloud and said it looked like a cloud. Obviously, she was right. Just as obviously, to a veteran player of the game, she was breaking one of the unwritten rules. But my mind was racing: Do some clouds look more like clouds than others? Is there an ideal kind of "cloudness"? If so, maybe she was onto something. This led me to try to articulate the rules of the game, which led to the following poem.

Thirty Illegal Moves in the Cloud-Shape Game

Potatoes

Waves

Ghosts

A Rorschach blot

Fuzz

Clouds

A dragon head

Chèvre

A puddle

Cloth

A swab

Crumpled up paper

A blob

Trees

Jelly

Scallops

Fungi

Hair

Milk

A piñata

Chamois

Sheep

Feta

A fist

Algae

Alsace-Lorraine

Quiche

Stew

Bubbles

Pudding

Aaron Belz teaches English at Providence Christian College in Ontario, California. His second book, "Lovely, Raspberry," is forthcoming from Persea.



Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:00 am
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Post Re: Washington Post: Poet's Choice 2010
Here's the kind of reader I am: I had to make sure he didn't list 29 or 31. I would make the dragon head legal, though.



Sun Jan 10, 2010 12:36 pm
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Post Jan. 15, 2010
Poet's Choice: Rachel Loden's "Miss October"
"Miss October" began in annoyance and ended somewhere entirely else. Hugh Hefner's E! Entertainment television show "The Girls Next Door" debuted around the time of its writing, and (in clicking channels one night) I was treated to images of a then near-octogenarian Mr. Hefner indefatigably flogging the program in his robe and slippers.

I had not yet seen the recent tweet that alerted me to the sale of "6 vols of PLAYBOY, signed by Hefner w a piece of his PJs," but that delicious bit alone might have triggered the birth of this poem. For what is "a 7 x 7 cm piece of Hef's famous silk pajamas, worn by the great man himself" (as advertised by the publisher) but a religious relic, one exquisitely appropriate for our times?

I shouldn't have been surprised that "Miss October" had plans for me beyond exasperation and bemusement. For years my poems about the undead and uneasy 37th president of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, had taken me places that would have made even a zombie from Yorba Linda recoil in horror.

Both "Miss October" and my Nixon poems carried me back to Washington, D.C., where I was born, and where my father, a deejay and actor, lost his livelihood during the McCarthy era, but that was one way station among many. Poems have their own itineraries, issued only on the fly.

"Miss October" (very unusually) emerged in a single fit of scribbling, precisely the wet and glossy piece you'll find below.


MISS OCTOBER

If I have to be a playmate
In my time on earth
I want to be the girl
Of drifting leaves, cold cheeks

And passionate regrets.
I think Hef loves October best
Because although he cannot
Say so, he is this close

To death. December
In its stealth has hung
Long spikes of ice
Around his sagging ears, his

Sex. So in October
I'll be the centerfold of gay
Pretense, the girl who says
We're at our blondest

And most perilously beautiful
Right before we check out
Of the manse.
Soon all Hef's dreaming

Will be ash, his favorite pipe
And smoking jacket,
Last vial of Viagra
Safely under glass

At the Smithsonian.
When my shelf life here
Is done and all the damp
Boys stealing glimpses

At the newsstands
Are old men, I want them
To remember how many
Playmate-months

Are gone, how many rooms
Stand empty, shutters
Drawn, the last girls slipped
Away in bright October.



"Miss October" appears in Rachel Loden's new collection of poems, "Dick of the Dead" (Ahsahta Press).



By Ron Charles | January 15, 2010; 12:52 PM ET Poet's Choice



Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:46 pm
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Post Re: Washington Post: Poet's Choice 2010
I am sad to say I believe Poet's Choice is no more. As far as I can tell, it went down without warning or notification.



Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:16 pm
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Post 1/26/10
Hooray!!! It's back!!!!

Poet's Choice: "In a Beautiful Country" by Kevin Prufer

I live in a tiny town in Missouri, about 10 miles down Highway 50 from Whiteman Air Force Base. Several times a day, a B-2 bomber flies above my classroom, rumbling, beautiful and terrifying.

Sometimes, my students come to class in fatigues. They finish their homework between military and family duties. During the run-up to the Iraq War, I felt a palpable sort of tension in the local restaurants, the coffee shop, the Wal-Mart down the highway. On the one hand, we were quick to express patriotic feelings, nationalistic pride and a desire for revenge after 9/11. On the other hand, our military adventures, recounted endlessly on TV, would have very real, measurable impacts on our lives and the lives of our co-workers, loved ones and students. Today, most everyone in Warrensburg, Mo. knows someone at risk in Afghanistan, someone fighting in Iraq, someone making contingency plans for their families when they will have to be away.

"In a Beautiful Country" was born out of this anxiety and tension. In retrospect, those feelings of pride, ably manipulated by our own government and media, seem sinister. I suppose the "gold-haired girl" in the poem represents to me not the "beautiful country" of the poem's title, but an impostor version of that country we came to trust, a lovely voice distracting us from the truth of war, death and political incompetence. Here, falling in love-- with an idea, a voice -- becomes both intoxicating and, at least metaphorically, suicidal.

In a Beautiful Country

A good way to fall in love
is to turn off the headlights
and drive very fast down dark roads.

Another way to fall in love
is to say they are only mints
and swallow them with a strong drink.

Then it is autumn in the body.
Your hands are cold.
Then it is winter and we are still at war.

The gold-haired girl is singing into your ear
about how we live in a beautiful country.
Snow sifts from the clouds

into your drink. It doesn't matter about the war.
A good way to fall in love
is to close up the garage and turn the engine on,

then down you'll fall through lovely mists
as a body might fall early one morning
from a high window into love. Love,

the broken glass. Love, the scissors
and the water basin. A good way to fall
is with a rope to catch you.

A good way is with something to drink
to help you march forward.
The gold-haired girl says, Don't worry

about the armies, says, We live in a time
full of love. You're thinking about this too much.
Slow down. Nothing bad will happen.

_____________________________________________

This poem originally appeared in "Poetry" magazine. Kevin Prufer is the editor of "Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing."



Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:32 pm
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Post 2/2/10
Poet's Choice: "Money Talks" by Rae Armantrout

I wrote "Money Talks" in the fall of 2008 when we were hearing that the banks that had grown "too big to fail" were about to fail unless our representatives voted to give them huge subsidies. The poem really got started when I was thumbing through Vogue magazine and saw that "bondage and safari looks" were being touted that season. I thought those were some pretty interesting get-ups for the wealthy to wear as the middle class is driven towards bankruptcy. I began to imagine a personified Money sporting such styles. If you were a CEO, it might have been a good time to go on safari. Safari outfits are usually made of camouflage cloth. You might want to escape from view. On the other hand, bondage themed clothing might suggest that Money was a helpless victim, unable to help itself (or us). This vision of Money's ensembles concludes the first section. When I'd written the first part, the poem still didn't feel quite finished to me, so I let it sit for awhile. Then, not too much later, I was driving in Oakland, and I saw a billboard advertising a casino. I believe it showed an image of a roulette wheel. The only words on the billboard were the casino's name and the command, "Shut up and play!" I imagined my personified Money saying this when it was tired of lying low and being coy. Stop complaining, Money says, and get back in the endless game. You may lose your house, but the House always wins.


Money Talks

1.

Money is talking
to itself again

in this season's
bondage
and safari look,

its closeout camouflage.

Hit the refresh button
and this is what you get,

money pretending
that its hands are tied.

2.

On a billboard by the 880,

money admonishes,
"Shut up and play."

_________________________________

This poem originally appeared in the New Yorker magazine. Rae Armantrout is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at the University of California, San Diego.

By Ron Charles | February 2, 2010; 9:00 PM ET Poet's Choice
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Post 2/9/10
Poet's Choice: "The Story of White People" by Tony Hoagland

"The Story of White People" is one of a dozen or so poems I've written on the subject of race in America, that toxic reservoir over which our playgrounds and city halls are built. I've tried to make the poems explorations unhindered by the hedging and filling of political corrrectness or middle class Caucasian guilt. Most of the poems use a strategy of crooked speech to vocalize the deep uneasiness and confusion white Americans feel towards brown Americans; the poems try to have dark fun with the verbal taboos and truths of what one of the poems calls "Negrophobia." After all, we all know and feel a lot more than we pretend to, and our arrested speech is the essence of our arrested consciousness. In "The Story of White People," I thought I would write in the other direction, looking at what we generally feel now about the changing status of whiteness.

The Story of White People

After so long seeming right, as in
true, as in clean, as in smart,
being smart enough at least
not to be born some other color

after so long being visitors
from the galaxy Caucasia
now they are starting to seem a little

deficient; leached-out, spent, colorless;
thin-blooded, indefinite-
as in being too far and too long
removed from the original source
of whiteness;

suffering from a slight amnesia
in the way that skim milk can barely
remember the cow

and this change in status is
mysterious, indifferent, and objective
as when, at the beginning of winter,
the light shifts its angle of attention

from the mulberry to the cottonwood.
Just another change of season,
not that dramatic or perceptible

but to all of us, it feels different.

_______________________________________

Tony Hoagland, "The Story of White People" from "Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty." Copyright 2009 by Tony Hoagland. Used by permission of Graywolf Press.



Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:35 pm
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Post 2/16/10
This is a long post --

Poet's Choice: "Embedded in the Language" by Maxine Chernoff

"Embedded in the Language" arose from my outrage at the War in Iraq and the government policy to embed and thus restrict reporters covering it. As a child and then teenager, I was profoundly influenced by the nightly coverage of the Viet Nam War and its startling, endless line of flag-draped coffins coming home.

One of those coffins contained the remains of my cousin's husband, a young second lieutenant who was killed, as it turned out, by friendly fire, and whose wife, Barbara Sonneborn, went on to make an Oscar-nominated documentary about Viet Nam war widows, "Regret to Inform." Where were the coffins from this latest war? Where were the widows? Where were our lost soldiers, who had gone to fight, interrupting peaceful lives as mailmen, safety officers, teachers, friends, lovers, husbands and wives so that George Bush could be a "war president?"

The poem then takes on the issue of how language and images surrounding this war have been controlled by the government and how more poignant this prohibition of images and censorship of language has made the war itself. Humans want information, and when a government attempts to discourage it or twist it, they will try even harder to get at the "truth." In little scenes or vignettes, how language and information have been compromised is set against statements that interrogate this policy both politically and poetically.


Embedded in the Language

"The U.S. share of world military spending for 2006: 51%"
- Los Alamos Study Group

"I'm not a lawyer. My impression is that what has been charged thus far is
abuse, which I believe is technically different from torture."
- Donald Rumsfeld


1.
Embedded in the language
cultural proofs and tendencies
the word Brunif
to make brown or to polish.

2.
here the color, there the rubbing
interaction of text
and interpreter
never closed
bird of dawn:
a constant term.

3.
enlisted because
his mother died
he got laid off
she got convicted twice.

4.
"our national debt increased
by $2 trillion
in only five years"
(one trillion seconds
equals 31,546 years.)

5.
"Beauty is information."

6.
war coverage through
"a soda straw"
in a forty hour period
not a single story
shows people hit
by weapons.

7.
let's embed Stravinsky
let's embed aspens
let's embed history
let's embed logic.

8.
I knew a soldier
lovely in his wounds.

9.
the USO tour, said director
Wayne Newton,
featured Al Franken
dressed as Saddam Hussein,
Clint Black, Jewel and
SoulJahz, the Christian
hip hop group.

10.
dust storms gather
outside a tent
on night patrol
he listens to 50 Cent
is it multiculture yet?

11.
A figure-ground reversal
of any single aspect or facet
of holistic sensory experience
since man the symbol-maker
adjusts to anything.

12.
A California mother on TV
claims her son died
to keep her and church members
free from wearing burkas.

13.
how to make a poem
of so many terrible facts
how to re-embed
sympathy and truth.

14.
or rather un-embed
since knowing
needs a room
for quiet occupation
and sorting out of facts
white space and a reason
time and air.

15.
no coffins from this war
not allowed on the news
all desertions prosecuted
to the letter of the law.

16.
a boy from Honduras
aged eighteen
who died on February 7
citizenship granted
posthumously.

17.
"Political poems
are only the crudest
expression
of the feeling of loss,
an attempt to find
a central enemy
so that ironic tension
may be dissolved."

18.
three years to the day,
I read, "I'm reminded
of the commanders
of World War 1
who repeatedly lied
about victory over the Kaiser
as they pushed thousands of men
through the butcher shops
of the Somme,
Verdun, and Gallipoli."

19.
this too information
meant to tie on meaning
carry it on your back
use it as a shield.


19 March 2006
3rd anniversary

____________________________

By Ron Charles | February 16, 2010; 10:03 PM ET Poet's Choice
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Post 2/23/10
Poet's Choice by Linda Pastan

Pastan Linda.jpegThough my poems are often a reflection of my so called "real life" (the woods outside my window, my family, what I read about in the newspapers), they are usually more disguised, less specific in their details, than this poem. Maybe that's because I lead such a quiet life that I have to invent, or at least embroider.

But the snow that buried the Washington area this February was only "quiet" in the literal sense. Without heat, light, water, phone or stove, I felt like a character in "Castaway" or like a mountain climber stranded on the slopes. I think I could have done without the lights, the stove, the phone, even without my computer, but when the temperature in our house sank to 39 degrees, I became seriously unhappy.

I often write poems in my head to distract myself during hard times. Some years ago, after a car crash, while I lay waiting for the ambulance, I actually finished a poem I had been working on, determined not to die before I had it right. So "The Blizzard of 2010" was largely written in my head as I lay beneath all those blankets and coats, waiting not for an ambulance this time but for a snow plow to come and rescue me. I am still waiting for the temperature to rise enough to rescue the garden.

The Blizzard of 2010

After the power was out
for four days
the temperature indoors
continued to fall,
though so gradually
they hardly noticed at first--
like the frog in the kettle
of previously cold water
who doesn't realize
he's being boiled alive.
After the last log
had collapsed
in a pyrotechnic display
of embers fading to ash,
and the glossy leaves
of the orchids, the lemon
had started to wilt
on their faithless stems,
they lay down together
unable to move, pinned
by the weight of their blankets
and afghans and quilts,
the pile of their winter
coats. And though
they were too cold
to sleep, they dreamed
about those unassuming days
when their garden-- now
a mausoleum of snow and ice--
warmed them in ecstatic
flames of blossom.

________________________________
Linda Pastan's 13th book of poems, "Traveling Light," will be published by Norton in January of 2011. She was Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991-1995 and has been a finalist twice for the National Book Award. In 2003 she won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.



Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:38 pm
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Post 3/2/10
This is another long post.

Poet's Choice: "Will There Be More Than One 'Questioner'?" by Nick Lantz

The title of "Will There Be More Than One 'Questioner'?" comes from an interrogator's preparatory checklist in a declassified CIA document from 1983, the "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual." I came across it while doing research for my book "We Don't Know We Don't Know," which focuses partly on salvaging poetry out of politically degraded language.

In clumsily seeking to conceal the manual's actual subject, the euphemism "human resource exploitation" comes off more sinister than "interrogation" (or even "torture") ever could. The manual disavows violence as an interrogation technique, but these disavowals appear in what are clearly later additions, and they are so frequent, and vigorous, that they too become unintentionally self-incriminating. The ironic quotes that appear around "questioner," "questioning" and so forth in the poem follow an identical convention used in the original document, and again, this evasion is full of menace. ("There is nothing mysterious about 'questioning,'" the manual's authors unconvincingly assure the reader.) Another convention carried over from the source document is the redaction and elision of text.

Through its preemptive denials, secrecy and doublespeak, the manual seeks in many ways to diminish the negative reactions it may illicit, but in so doing, it manages to sound more disturbing and more mysterious than it ever could have otherwise. This was both comical and sad, and I knew I wanted to use that language somehow in a poem. Very early in the writing process, I realized that the poem would itself be an interrogation, an almost abusive litany of questions. Though the poem of course reads against the backdrop our recent torture scandals and debates, its surreal turns free it of any particular time and place. The interrogator-protagonist who took shape ultimately interested me not for reasons of political ideology but for the way in which he exemplifies how even when we are privy to the most clandestine recesses of human behavior, we are still fundamentally shut out of true knowledge. No matter how many "questions" we ask, we cannot know everything.


Will There Be More Than One "Questioner"?
-- CIA Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual (1983)

Will the cell window look out onto a hem of mountains? An alley of hard-packed dirt? A seam of razor wire?
Will the "questioning" take place in the cell or at another location?
In the location where the "questioning" will take place, have provisions been made for restraints?
Will you know the crime of which he is accused before you begin the "questioning"?
Have provisions been made for surveillance?
Have provisions been made for refreshments?
Will there be light?
Will there be music?
During the day will all light be shut out?
Will you read the name on his dossier before entering the cell?
Before the "questioning" begins, will you offer tea scented with rose water?
Will you take his hand in yours?
Will you send for [ ]?
After the first day of "questioning," will you sit on the breezy veranda and read the confiscated letters from his wife?
Will it concern you that the detention center has a veranda in the first place, that from the nearest road, it looks like a rich man's estate, sprawl of tan buildings collared by a tender lawn?
For this reason, will you give him your real name even though to do so is forbidden?
Will you have an unconscious man dragged past the open door at a predetermined time?
Will you say, Excuse me, and then rise to shut the door?
Will you remember that the anticipation of pain is more acute than pain itself?
Will his wife send the same letter to every embassy, every week, for months?
What kind of music will be playing at night?
Will the unconscious man be missing his nose?
Will you ask questions you know are beyond his knowledge?
Will you ask questions that have no answers?
Will he say, No more for today, please?
Will you listen?
In the letters his wife sends, will she have left a blank space exactly the length of the words Where are you?
Will there be a window at all?
Will you show him your pistol just once?

Will you ask him what he did before the war?
Will a bucket in the corner continue to catch the drip of water?
Will he say, I was a farmer?
Will he say, I salvaged scrap metal?
Will he say, I was a faith healer who traveled in a covered wagon?
Will he say, I was a thief?
Will he say, I was an interrogator?
Will he say, I was a weaver?
Will you admit you've never understood the mechanics of the loom, how the shuttle racks back and forth and a pattern emerges?
Will he say, The loom has been more essential to the development of civilization than has the printing press or the cotton gin?
Will he say, I was a scribe when the centurions crucified your god?
Will you ask, How could you sit by and do nothing?
Will he say, It was my job to record such things, not to intercede?
Will you ask the stenographer to strike his last statement from the record?
Will there be a stenographer?
Will there be any record of what you've done, what you plan to do?
After many weeks, during a lull in the "questioning," will you speak of the first time your fingers grazed the inside of your wife's thigh?
Will he nod and say, Yes, I remember too, the smell of my own wife's hair on my face in the morning?
Will you ask him how he can remember anything?
Will he admit that more than once he has tried drowning himself in that bucket of dripped-down water?
Will you say, I know, we watch you day and night?
Will he ask, How could you sit by and do nothing?
Will you say, We thought you were praying?
Will you say, Even to witness an atrocity is a kind of courage?
Will you say, The remedy is worse than the disease?
Will you say, I misspoke, we see nothing?
Will you say, Such things are not up to me?
Will he say, After I failed, I had to wait ten years for the bucket to fill so I could try again?
Will you say, It was a hundred years?
Will he say, [ ]?
Will you ask, How are such wonders possible?
Will he say, The shuttle of the loom whispers as it makes its pass over the threads?
Will there be a translator?
At night will you rub the bumpy skin of his passport between your fingers?
Will you think of him while you eat dark honey smeared on dark bread in a cafe?
Will you sign the order?
Will you say, If it were up to me...?
The night before, will you keep him awake with unscripted questions?
Will you ask, When you were a healer, would you heal anyone? When you were a scribe, what did you omit? When you were a thief, did you steal from yourself?
Will he say, Questions in sufficient quantity are a kind of answer?
Will you ask, Like the drops falling into the bucket?
And will he say, No, not like that at all?

Many months later, will you recognize his wife buying loose tea and oranges from the market?
Will you take her picture from his dossier and carry it in your inside breast pocket?
Will you have her followed?
Will you sit in your car outside her house, which was once their house?
Will the house be made of marble? Sheets of corrugated tin? Bones and hide?
Will you approach her at the gate one morning and touch her arm, though to do so is forbidden, even for you?
Will you risk everything to say, He is alive, he is alive?
Will it be true?
Will she call out for help?
Will the bucket in the corner overflow?
Will you say, The anticipation of death is worse than death itself?
Will you say this to no one in particular?
Will you go to his cell, sit in the chair he sat in, and imagine your own face staring at you across the pocked table, your open mouth a hole that water drips through day and night?
Will there be light?
Will there be [ ]?
Will there be more than one "questioner"?
Will there be more than one "question"?
Will the loom hold taut the warp as the weft passes through?
Will a pattern emerge?
Will there be a witness to all we have said and done?

_________________
Nick Lantz is the author of "We Don't Know We Don't Know" (Graywolf Press) and "The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors' House" (University of Wisconsin Press). He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.



Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:40 pm
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Post March 10, 2010
Poet's Choice by Julie Carr
This poem is the 23rd "note" in my book, "100 Notes on Violence." At this
moment in the sequence I wanted to be very explicit about my intentions and about the source of those intentions. The book grew out of my increasing resistance to representations of and information about domestic, local and intimate violence. As a mother and citizen, I found myself growing less and less able to tolerate images or texts about violence, especially when that violence was aimed at children. Having recently moved to Colorado, I was extremely aware of the Columbine Massacre, and aware of my inability to think about that event and all comparable events directly. This felt like cowardice to me. I felt I needed to find a way, through my work, to confront these fears and resistances and to examine with as much depth and breadth as I could conjure the existence of violence as a fact of our collective identity. I wanted to move not toward
acceptance, but toward awareness and acknowledgment. The final line of this poem is especially important because writing this book made me more aware of my own potential for violence - it made me aware that violence does not belong outside of us, but lives within any of us as a possibility. The book is therefore finally not about other people's violence, but about our collective culpability.

23.

The idea to write a book "about" violence. "What kind?"
"The close-up kind."

Because I cannot write the words "school shootings"
into the little search box.

Later I hear that whatever you write into the little
search box will somewhere
be recorded as data in order to better sell you.

What does the person searching school shootings want to
buy?

I keyed "guns" instead, but I don't want to buy a gun.

I could buy a gun.

_____________________________________
Julie Carr is the author of "Mead: An Epithalamion," "Equivocal," "100 Notes on Violence," published by Ahsahta Press, and the forthcoming "Sarah--of Fragments and Lines," which will be out from Coffee House Press in September. She teaches at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and is the co-publisher of Counterpath Press.

By Ron Charles | March 10, 2010; 9:55 PM ET Poet's Choice



Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:17 am
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