April 18, 2007

got a lot of books to read
so you crack them, you crack them

François Picabia, Very Rare Picture on Earth, 1915
Oil and metallic paint on board, silver and gold leaf on wood

In Time of War
-- by klipschutz

In time of war, this war,
many things remain the same.
They do, that’s all. Admit it.
We know we are at war,
we are told and told and told,
know it too because we see it
on the screens that fill our lives.
Poets rally round the keys
with coded anguish
or overt calls to arms
or to lay them down,
one walleye alighting
briefly on the future,
and once there, on the anthology
that will retrospect the war.
Thoughts of the anthology
are comforting, because
the war will be over.
One of the poets will
write the introduction,
deploying an arsenal of verbs
in mostly past and a little future tense,
active, passive, transitive, intransitive,
the works. He or she will really
go to town with was.
Fictioneers rally too,
with short stories with
ingenious or bruising connections
to The Day Everything Changed.
Changed: we are at war.
Told we are at war.
Witnesses, too, we are,
in a way, or at least are
allowed to believe, because
we see it (the war)
on all the many screens
that fill our lives.
Though most songs
remain the same, here,
at home. The news
from far away is something
else, ghastly, grim, like
murders in a ghetto
where ‘life is cheap’
only multiplied by
many bodies, body parts.
Even as I revise, I can’t help
but wonder if maybe this
will appear in the anthology.

The Hand
-- Mary Ruefle

The teacher asks a question.
You know the answer, you suspect
you are the only one in the classroom
who knows the answer, because the person
in question is yourself, and on that
you are the greatest living authority,
but you don’t raise your hand.
You raise the top of your desk
and take out an apple.
You look out the window.
You don’t raise your hand and there is
some essential beauty in your fingers,
which aren’t even drumming, but lie
flat and peaceful.
The teacher repeats the question.
Outside the window, on an overhanging branch,
a robin is ruffling its feathers
and spring is in the air.

At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border
-- William Stafford

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed — or were killed — on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

* Malkmus playing West S at the at The Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon.


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