Valzhyna Mort, Mourid Barghouti, Jorie Graham & Mark Doty reviewed in verse


The Watermelon Fortress
for Valzhyna Mort

a place where nothing celebrates
      past its twentieth birthday, except
the government.
Where babies crawl in and out
      of the bomb
shelter/ruin. Eyes in suits
watch the creche
      make sure no one
grows up:

      Your child did well in school
      but we regret we must terminate
      for the good of the state.

Mothers are made of machines.

The Bullet in my Heart
for Mourid Barghouti

and you mustn't worry
and you must be happy
      rest yourself here, friend
here where there are no chairs
and you must, like everyone else, wear Khaki,

Bring us all to love again, my friend,
so we might kill. Sorrow swings
its ambush at the day's trunk.
      Living is like carrying
      a bullet in your heart,
fists clenching on the grass of home,
on the sun,
on an icecream,
on a gun.

Imagining Collapse
for Jorie Graham

“You have to write your poems like they’ve been dug up from sand.”
–Jorie Graham

Imagining collapse, sacrifice begins: Measuring the qualities
                                      of survival-"If we are alone
                                      on this planet, will we still
                                      feel human?" Fruit and the blossom
at the same time on the same tree, the wassailers speechless,
                                      customs must be abandoned
the specific tree outside the window will be what? huh? language?
                                      a blat-flash of each day flowers
                                      like barrel flares-every syllable
                                      a shelterless plosive, hot tracers show
                                      you to where the sentences should end;
if we arrive we will shelter in a period, pray generations will return
                                      a new inheritance; fingerprints evidence
the attempts to scare off death; mental distress-wool on barbed wire
                                      rusting-I wish to talk to you about
your future: what can we call an evolution of the mind?

for Mark Doty

I carry myself so that no one else has to.
Look on my work, you might, and despair with me!
History can go screw itself! I’m stuck in the gear
marked “only those who have personality and emotions
know what it means to want to laugh at my poetry.”
Now let’s escape for a Qigong in Chinatown.


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