My poem, “Sensing My Dismay at the Election Results, My Wife’s Dog Presses Against Me” is up at the “Such an Ugly Time” page of Rat’s Ass Review. The poem originally appeared here in November 2016, but has been given new life, thanks to editor Roderick Bates.
Today’s offering on the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day site is Ocean Vuong’s “Self-Portrait as Exit Wounds,” a superb end to a week of immigrant poems by Juan Felipe Herrera, Chen Chen, Solmaz Sharif, and Mai Der Vang.
My last five posts of 2016 will be reruns of the five most viewed poems on this site during the year. Number four made its appearance here in July.
In Response to Nadia’s Misdirected Email, I State Exactly What I Am Looking For
Balance. The ability to stand on one foot, on a tightrope, and juggle AR-15s,
ethics and dollar bills, while chanting the U.S. Constitution, in tongues.
Or good health.
A mechanism for disagreeing without needing to annihilate the opposition.
Doorways without doors, truth without fear.
A simple tulip.
One word to describe that instant between thought and pulled trigger,
intent and wish, the elevated pulse and sense of diminished space and time.
Sanctuary. Regret. Apology. Respect.
A tonic to the bitterness, a foil to the sweet.
Fitted sheets that fold. Uncommon sense.
Love in the abstract. More bacon. Smiles.
A closet that embraces everything you place in it. Everything.
The means of unfiring guns, of reversing wounds to undamaged flesh,
and rounds to their magazines, full and never used.
Self-organizing drawers. Due process.
Mothers who know only tears of joy.
One peaceful day.
The right has only one option,
as is true of the left,
neither to mingle
nor disappear like washed socks
or loved ones in a casino.
There are those who believe
in fallen towers and pasts
burnished beyond recognition,
and truth, as it was written, for them,
in blood, with money inherited
from thieves. The puddle happens.
The door rotates. A snifter shatters.
The shoe’s approach defines its wearer.
* * *
This first appeared in March 2016, but somehow seems even more appropriate today.
Forced to Eat Soft Food, I Consider Options
What good is pizza to one who can’t eat it? I’m thinking of a rolled crust
stuffed with prosciutto and parmesan, with onion strands and whole
basil leaves nestled among them, accompanied by a frothy pale ale,
bitter yet smooth and tuned so finely as to flit comfortably between the
notes of a liquid arpeggio. Or if not pizza, perhaps a red chili of braised
and shredded beef seasoned with ancho and chipotle and a smidgeon
of chocolate and beer, simmered slowly and served on the year’s
coldest day in front of the fireplace. I have so much and am grateful
for so little. My clothes are warm and dry, and the eggs I’ve poached
offer me sustenance and flavor and textures wrought of memories
of childhood and comfort, family and treasured books at hand. Then
I think of water and protectors, of standing rocks and centuries of
abuse and neglect and lies bred to fill coffers, and I wonder if we
could pile stones ten horses high around the cowards who spray,
bludgeon and strip search, who fire water cannons in sub-freezing
temperatures, and throw concussion grenades directly at pacifists, all
for the cause of holy oil. What good is pizza to those who can’t swallow?
I fork a bite of egg to my mouth, and choke, but only for a moment.