Zócalo Public SquareChronicles – Zócalo Public Square http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org Ideas Journalism With a Head and a Heart Mon, 22 Jan 2018 22:14:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 A Preserved Darknesshttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/01/19/a-preserved-darkness/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/01/19/a-preserved-darkness/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 08:01:33 +0000 By Ryan Collins http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=90555 The world ends but the territory goes on. The world ends like the horizon, like the
curvature of the earth whether anyone believes it exists. The world ends & beyond its
end burns a signal fire human eyes cannot see, smoke noses cannot detect even
downwind. The world ends downwards & depends on where feet are placed, the
direction faced. The world ends in one direction—away from the territory, weather in its
chest.

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The world ends but the territory goes on. The world ends like the horizon, like the
curvature of the earth whether anyone believes it exists. The world ends & beyond its
end burns a signal fire human eyes cannot see, smoke noses cannot detect even
downwind. The world ends downwards & depends on where feet are placed, the
direction faced. The world ends in one direction—away from the territory, weather in its
chest.

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On Childrenhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/01/12/on-children/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/01/12/on-children/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 12 Jan 2018 08:01:33 +0000 By Timothy E.G. Bartel http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=90431 To help them sleep is a creative act:
You choose what seems a fitting setting: bed.
You plot a structure: prayers, then lullaby,
Then slowly slowing down the tune until
It could be breathing just as soon as song,
Then creeping, often on your hands and knees,
While listening intently to their breath,
Back through the evening darkness toward the door.

So many things can cause your form to break:
A sudden thirst, the question why we die,
Or how we’re born, or why we chose to eat
A salad dinner when we could have cake.
Most often, though, it seems so random why
When all has been made ready, they still wake.

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To help them sleep is a creative act:
You choose what seems a fitting setting: bed.
You plot a structure: prayers, then lullaby,
Then slowly slowing down the tune until
It could be breathing just as soon as song,
Then creeping, often on your hands and knees,
While listening intently to their breath,
Back through the evening darkness toward the door.

So many things can cause your form to break:
A sudden thirst, the question why we die,
Or how we’re born, or why we chose to eat
A salad dinner when we could have cake.
Most often, though, it seems so random why
When all has been made ready, they still wake.

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SACRIFICEhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/01/05/sacrifice/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/01/05/sacrifice/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 05 Jan 2018 08:01:05 +0000 By Julia Laxer http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=90292  
Last night she burned her wishes. With her mother, down beside the river. Sparks. Burning bits
of paper… Fluttering lambs, laid to rest in the sky… We make these wishes so we can burn
them
. When you put the pen to paper it makes something real. We are always proving ourselves
to the ether.
 

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Last night she burned her wishes. With her mother, down beside the river. Sparks. Burning bits
of paper… Fluttering lambs, laid to rest in the sky… We make these wishes so we can burn
them
. When you put the pen to paper it makes something real. We are always proving ourselves
to the ether.
 

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Each Day Travellinghttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/12/15/each-day-travelling/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/12/15/each-day-travelling/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 15 Dec 2017 08:01:19 +0000 By Elizabeth Jacobson http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=89988 Hello Buson!

I found another dead snake on the road today
and thought of you, the way you said Use the commonplace

to escape the commonplace. Your square face
could have framed any painting,

but you chose this – the ashen leaves
of so many cold days,

one purple thistle poking through.

You walked a long way
with pebbles in your shoes,

sat above a mountain pond considering your reflection
until nothing remained.

Here, the foothills are full of coyotes,
and in my room I am surrounded

with the yelps of their longing.
The senses flood; the sunken islands of brackish grass

appear to float in the pond –
                       I feel the whole world in me,

the unrelenting grief that is each day travelling
so quickly into the next. How closely

you looked at things: Struck by a

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Hello Buson!

I found another dead snake on the road today
and thought of you, the way you said Use the commonplace

to escape the commonplace. Your square face
could have framed any painting,

but you chose this – the ashen leaves
of so many cold days,

one purple thistle poking through.

You walked a long way
with pebbles in your shoes,

sat above a mountain pond considering your reflection
until nothing remained.

Here, the foothills are full of coyotes,
and in my room I am surrounded

with the yelps of their longing.
The senses flood; the sunken islands of brackish grass

appear to float in the pond –
                       I feel the whole world in me,

the unrelenting grief that is each day travelling
so quickly into the next. How closely

you looked at things: Struck by a raindrop, snail closes up.
And then, dear Buson, and then?

You would have kissed me, I think,
on all sides of my face.

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OCCUPIEDhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/12/08/occupied/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/12/08/occupied/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 08 Dec 2017 08:01:50 +0000 By Genevieve Leone http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=89862 *****

Underneath this day, another

The way morning – shang
sits on top of afternoon

What is past is
what we see –

Speculation as to how long this war will last.
Con Cater says 3 months. Ethel Taylor says 12 months.
I say three years.

The pages fill. Each day a blank.

*****

Then, my stomach –

moldy flour,

wanting news from home, and

a body is what we bring,

what we offer. I’ve taken a strange

language into my mouth but

press gangs busy taking Chinese off streets is what

this hand writes,

records

****

Samuel Johnson said, no detail too small

Mending and tea and washing
everything on days with
blessed hot water

Christmas letters written,
then destroyed

Black houses and
streets

One day, only this –

Something to remember

Betty’s face, when she came in
with the red rose

 
 
*The above poems are

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*****

Underneath this day, another

The way morning – shang
sits on top of afternoon

What is past is
what we see –

Speculation as to how long this war will last.
Con Cater says 3 months. Ethel Taylor says 12 months.
I say three years.

The pages fill. Each day a blank.

*****

Then, my stomach –

moldy flour,

wanting news from home, and

a body is what we bring,

what we offer. I’ve taken a strange

language into my mouth but

press gangs busy taking Chinese off streets is what

this hand writes,

records

****

Samuel Johnson said, no detail too small

Mending and tea and washing
everything on days with
blessed hot water

Christmas letters written,
then destroyed

Black houses and
streets

One day, only this –

Something to remember

Betty’s face, when she came in
with the red rose

 
 
*The above poems are based on the diary of an American missionary and teacher who lived in Shanghai during the Japanese occupation of that city before and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December, 1941.

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Evidence and Inquiryhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/12/01/evidence-and-inquiry/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/12/01/evidence-and-inquiry/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 01 Dec 2017 08:01:18 +0000 By Dawn Corrigan http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=89725 It was an ordinary October afternoon,
the sky dimmed by clouds that filled
the valley and stripped it of all color,
the sun a rueful smile peeking through.
Inside, drabness total as an eclipse:
the concrete block, lead paint, dust
and greenish light of our classroom.

You and I were there, and Anne as well,
wearing a large hat and enveloped in
her cloud of thoughts. Bob was droning on
when Howard overrode him, interrupting
with that staccato meter he had.
In such moments he seemed unable to stop
speaking, offering a show not unlike sex

in certain frantic respects. Of course we
enjoyed those. He said, “There’s an answer
to every question, but sometimes it’s ‘Who knows?’
Everything has a determinate shape
but that doesn’t guarantee we have
an adequate account of it. If we ask
Anne to walk out the door, and she does,

and when she returns

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It was an ordinary October afternoon,
the sky dimmed by clouds that filled
the valley and stripped it of all color,
the sun a rueful smile peeking through.
Inside, drabness total as an eclipse:
the concrete block, lead paint, dust
and greenish light of our classroom.

You and I were there, and Anne as well,
wearing a large hat and enveloped in
her cloud of thoughts. Bob was droning on
when Howard overrode him, interrupting
with that staccato meter he had.
In such moments he seemed unable to stop
speaking, offering a show not unlike sex

in certain frantic respects. Of course we
enjoyed those. He said, “There’s an answer
to every question, but sometimes it’s ‘Who knows?’
Everything has a determinate shape
but that doesn’t guarantee we have
an adequate account of it. If we ask
Anne to walk out the door, and she does,

and when she returns we ask what she did,
and she answers to our satisfaction,
then we must say she understood
our question. But interpretation
is inexhaustible. If you’re satisfied,
that’s the best you can do.” Maybe
you remember how he went on to say

that the most important question is
“What difference does it make if…?”
So I’m asking. What difference does it make
that he chose Anne for his example?
What difference would it make had he
chosen you instead? Or me? None that
I can see, but soon after it was Anne

who drifted away and out of view.
Before she went we could tell something
was in pursuit, right behind and closing fast,
something with no determinate shape
sending its hot breath down her neck.
Usually she wore the horror of it
wrapped around her neck like a scarf

but occasionally it seemed to leave her alone
and on those days she had admittance
to the dream world, where she walked through
an arable land with no marked paths,
empress in the country of the stars.
There’s the bell for my next class, but before
I go I want to ask you one more thing.

Do you think Howard saw Anne’s future
that day, drawn on her face like a map?
Or did he conjure it when he offered her
disappearance and return as a mere side note
to what he really wanted us to learn?
Do we and our words have any effect
on what the Fates sew? Tell me, whoever knows.

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WHEN I LIVED IN NEW YORKhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/24/lived-new-york/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/24/lived-new-york/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 24 Nov 2017 08:01:05 +0000 By Alicia Jo Rabins http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=89557 This matzah ball soup
Reminds me of my grandmother
I’m so close to her here in Brooklyn city of her birth

Darling as she called everyone
Let’s be sentimentalists together
And forget about her personality disorder

Forget her in the attic on St Marks Avenue
Thinking her baby was a bouquet of flowers
Instead regard the mama bird

Feeding her openmouthed chicks
Who is the worm I am the worm
Who is the mother I am the mother

Juggling too many lifetimes to count
So I let them drop like planets
Marbles falling on the carpet of ocean

If I were a nightingale
I’d always say the right thing
Instead I am hedgehog sweetgum ball prickly pear

And I stick my edges into the bullshit
Politeness of the West Coast
When I lived in New York I kept my exterior polished

I thought the pigeons were nightingales
Reflection friend past

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This matzah ball soup
Reminds me of my grandmother
I’m so close to her here in Brooklyn city of her birth

Darling as she called everyone
Let’s be sentimentalists together
And forget about her personality disorder

Forget her in the attic on St Marks Avenue
Thinking her baby was a bouquet of flowers
Instead regard the mama bird

Feeding her openmouthed chicks
Who is the worm I am the worm
Who is the mother I am the mother

Juggling too many lifetimes to count
So I let them drop like planets
Marbles falling on the carpet of ocean

If I were a nightingale
I’d always say the right thing
Instead I am hedgehog sweetgum ball prickly pear

And I stick my edges into the bullshit
Politeness of the West Coast
When I lived in New York I kept my exterior polished

I thought the pigeons were nightingales
Reflection friend past self in the subway glass
O the mornings I wasted

Reading about how to give birth

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Aesthetic Translationhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/17/aesthetic-translation/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/17/aesthetic-translation/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 08:01:30 +0000 By Natalie Scenters-Zapico http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=89404

 
*This poem includes text in italics from “Drug War on Doorsteps All Over Ciudad Juárez,” by Stephen Holden and “Ciudad Juárez, a Border City Known for Killing, Gets Back To Living,” by Damien Cave, both published in The New York Times.

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*This poem includes text in italics from “Drug War on Doorsteps All Over Ciudad Juárez,” by Stephen Holden and “Ciudad Juárez, a Border City Known for Killing, Gets Back To Living,” by Damien Cave, both published in The New York Times.

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Virgil Avenue & Other Geographieshttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/10/virgil-avenue-geographies/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/10/virgil-avenue-geographies/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 10 Nov 2017 08:01:54 +0000 By Lynne Thompson http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=89294 I

It was a beginning like any other which isn’t
quite the way it was. With beginnings,

where to start? The house that was my first
was a house that Daddy brought to Virgil

atop a flatbed truck. He made his boys fix
it to the foundation, then do whatever else

was necessary to create a kind of permanence.
I wasn’t there then. Then I was, driving Daddy

through the old neighborhood where the house was,
as memories tend to be, smaller than he remembered.

II

I was part of his vision of a wind-whipped Schwinn,
part get-away, part stay-put, all pout and tough rules,
Dragnet and Jack Benny. But I had a mind, and I began
to pursue the life of it. Only half-present, only vaguely
aware of something beyond presence. Of those years,
I recall a boy—Henry—not as I knew him then, but
the way I knew

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I

It was a beginning like any other which isn’t
quite the way it was. With beginnings,

where to start? The house that was my first
was a house that Daddy brought to Virgil

atop a flatbed truck. He made his boys fix
it to the foundation, then do whatever else

was necessary to create a kind of permanence.
I wasn’t there then. Then I was, driving Daddy

through the old neighborhood where the house was,
as memories tend to be, smaller than he remembered.

II

I was part of his vision of a wind-whipped Schwinn,
part get-away, part stay-put, all pout and tough rules,
Dragnet and Jack Benny. But I had a mind, and I began
to pursue the life of it. Only half-present, only vaguely
aware of something beyond presence. Of those years,
I recall a boy—Henry—not as I knew him then, but
the way I knew him when I was never to see him
again, realizing too late his Armenian surname had
been thrown on a heap. You might ask why he never
told me. You might ask why everyone is always looking
behind; perhaps it is

III

…because it is all ephemeral by which I mean to say
every one of us gets suckered by the gods. California,

for example, the first of the fifty states to honor an insect—
a Dogface butterfly with a glide-range that can’t

outspread the topograph’s shifting, golden borders—
it’s bluish-black, sulfur-yellow insufficient to hoodwink

impermanence with its showy display in the chaparral of
the southern Santa Anas. Tribe: coliadini; genus: z. Eurydice.

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Contingencieshttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/03/contingencies/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/03/contingencies/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 03 Nov 2017 07:01:28 +0000 By Nicholas Reiner http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=89180 We cross the Vincent Thomas bridge
in our Hyundai Santa Fe. We’re on our way
to my grandparents’ house
& then the market to get husks for the tamales.
Our car begins to shake
& the ground beneath seems to wiggle.
It is time for the bridge to collapse
after 83 years. Cars begin careening
off, some hang over the edge like they’re about
to go skydiving but not quite ready to jump. Some zoom right
off like they’re racing. All the cars
have noise-canceling interiors so
it is silent. You & me knew
this would happen eventually
& we are prepared. We press the
“Fly” button in our car
& soon the red car is lifted
off the crumbling ground
not by wings. We are not scared. This is happening
at the crest of the bridge. The cars
below are becoming smaller
& to our right
there are five

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We cross the Vincent Thomas bridge
in our Hyundai Santa Fe. We’re on our way
to my grandparents’ house
& then the market to get husks for the tamales.
Our car begins to shake
& the ground beneath seems to wiggle.
It is time for the bridge to collapse
after 83 years. Cars begin careening
off, some hang over the edge like they’re about
to go skydiving but not quite ready to jump. Some zoom right
off like they’re racing. All the cars
have noise-canceling interiors so
it is silent. You & me knew
this would happen eventually
& we are prepared. We press the
“Fly” button in our car
& soon the red car is lifted
off the crumbling ground
not by wings. We are not scared. This is happening
at the crest of the bridge. The cars
below are becoming smaller
& to our right
there are five seagulls
flying almost together.
They do not look at us
in our flying sedan
because what are we to them?
Do you want to hold hands now? I don’t need
to have them on the wheel.

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