Zócalo Public SquarePoetry – Zócalo Public Square http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org Ideas Journalism With a Head and a Heart Tue, 20 Feb 2018 08:01:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 HOARDERS:CLAIRE AND VANCEhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/02/16/hoardersclaire-and-vance/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/02/16/hoardersclaire-and-vance/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:01:03 +0000 By Kate Durbin http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=91271 C: I’m Claire, I’m an avid reader, aspiring writer, and I collect a lot of books filling the entire house so there are only narrow crevices to squeeze through; windows blocked with books so no natural light comes in; floors buckling under the weight of paperback stacks
C: My husband Vance and I have been married for 42 wonderful, crowded years Vance’s tie hung on the sides of a bookcase; Claire’s shirt flung over a mound of books
V: My name is Vance, I’m a teacher and a book lover from way Back Mystics and Messiahs, Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers, Paganism Book
C: In this house, we have two very familiar phrases—“I love you” and “timbeeeeeer!” pile of books collapsing
C: We have books that go to nine feet high in some places Hurricanes and Tornadoes, Jack and the Beanstalk
C: On the first floor it is wall-to-wall

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CLAIRE AND VANCE
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C: I’m Claire, I’m an avid reader, aspiring writer, and I collect a lot of books filling the entire house so there are only narrow crevices to squeeze through; windows blocked with books so no natural light comes in; floors buckling under the weight of paperback stacks
C: My husband Vance and I have been married for 42 wonderful, crowded years Vance’s tie hung on the sides of a bookcase; Claire’s shirt flung over a mound of books
V: My name is Vance, I’m a teacher and a book lover from way Back Mystics and Messiahs, Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers, Paganism Book
C: In this house, we have two very familiar phrases—“I love you” and “timbeeeeeer!” pile of books collapsing
C: We have books that go to nine feet high in some places Hurricanes and Tornadoes, Jack and the Beanstalk
C: On the first floor it is wall-to-wall books, with only a narrow path through Versailles, American Castles, Great Houses of Washington DC; Claire turns sideways to move through a crack between ceiling-high stacks; she walks on top of books, steps uneven
V: We find that uh getting up and down the stairs can be a Challenge Gaudi, Allergy, William Morris, Corpse
C: Books are our passion; we are omnivores of every kind of Information Exam Cram MSCR Core, MSCR Network Plus, Installing GNU/Linux, Windows 98, Practical Windows, Presenting Java, Official BONG, Access 2000
V: I tested over 200 on an IQ test; I instruct in some 31 different subjects, ranging from mathematics, political science, geography, psychology—all at the college level Crocheting for Dummies, Screenwriting for Dummies, Organic Chemistry for Dummies, British Sign Language for Dummies, The Ancient Egyptians for Dummies, The British Monarchy for Dummies, Catholic High School Entrance Exams for Dummies, Composting for Dummies, Atheism for Dummies, Ballet for Dummies, Baby Massage for Dummies, Dad’s Guide to Baby’s First Year for Dummies, Bird Watching for Dummies, Dog Photography for Dummies, Second Life for Dummies, Solving Cryptic Crosswords for Dummies, Workplace Conflict Resolution Essentials for Dummies New Zealand and Australian Edition, Work/Life Balance for Dummies Australian Edition, Veterans Benefits for Dummies, Starting an iPhone Application Business for Dummies, Acid Reflux Diet for Dummies, Cooking with Chia for Dummies, Building Chicken Coops for Dummies, Wilderness Survival for Dummies, Being a Great Dad for Dummies, Body Language for Dummies, Boosting Self-Esteem for Dummies, Build a Better Life Box Set for Dummies
C: My kitchen is not a kitchen anymore Cooking Without a Kitchen
V: It takes a little bit of dexterity to get to the stove Operation Dragoon
C: So mainly we eat dusty Jell-O boxes and Mikes Hard Cranberry Lemonade nestled between massive stacks of remaindered hardcovers on top of the stove; inside the stove is The Bell Jar; the fridge doors are ajar, shelves filled with Harlequin romances
C: Next to my bed, I have a pile of books; in the middle of the night sometimes, it all comes crashing down on me Shakespeare’s Tragedies, Greek Classics, The Civil War, Gone with the Wind, Pearl Harbor, PERL, 1812: The War that Forged a Nation, Return of Depression Economics: The Year 2008, The Battle of Britain, The Battle Plan for Prayer, Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, Great Gambles, World History, German Verbs, Introduction to Statistics, Wicca for Beginners, Wicca for Men
V: I think the conclusion we reached is we have a uneven bookshelf with a paperback of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha precariously propping it up
V: Uh, we have reached the limit another bookshelf toppling; books falling everywhere
C: My biggest fear is my husband’s Relationships for Dummies
C: He has a heart condition and anything can happen at any time and the EMT’s absolutely could not get him out of the Canadian Rockies Access Guide
C: The City patrol to make sure everybody has a parking pass, and they inferred from the stuff in our car that the house looked like that UFO CRASH, Tom Cruise Answer Book, Grays Anatomy, BIG BOOK OF PIZZA
C: They left a note on the door with intent to inspect the premises Nazi Germany
C: I don’t want to think about what would happen if the city came into the Battle of Waterloo
C: Vance and I met in college; we talked books, we were birds of a feather Sisson’s Synonyms
V: There was a happy collision of mutual interests Scottish Architecture, Copspeak, Encyclopedia of Psychological Problems, Gun Dog Breeds, Alternative Medications, Embracing the Moon
C: Vance and I knew each other 18 days before we got married Turning Life into Fiction
V: A few weeks after getting married, they had a book sale at the university; I came home with two shopping bags of books and my bride’s eyes got big The Dollar Crisis
C: When we moved into this house in 1977, we took out some of the appliances, and we just started moving books in bookcases where the washer and dryer would be; books stacked around and on top of the toilet
V: We moved in perhaps with 30,000 books; now it could be 500,000 Unsolved Disappearances in the Great Smoky Mountains
C: We are soulmates; we don’t have to be physical on a bed together to connect two single mattresses in separate rooms, each surrounded by walls of books
V: I don’t see how books can be a danger to anybody Berlin Wall, Bush Agenda, Gettysburg Jury, Elections, America Eats
V: Books don’t bite The Science of Jurassic Park and The Lost World, Dracula
C: We couldn’t see the books through the reading DaVinci Code
V: When you finally reach the point where you are tripping over your possessions, are you in possession of these possessions, or are they in possession of you? The Way Things Work Volume II
C: This is a financial problem for us, it is not psychological Freakanomics
V: We’re guilty of thinking that the answers in life come from books, and they decidedly do not American Poetry 1988-1997, Redneck Words of Wisdom, Hamlet

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CLAIRE AND VANCE
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IN EXCHANGEhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/02/09/in-exchange/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/02/09/in-exchange/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 08:01:21 +0000 By Joshua Hagler http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=91098 Furiously I’ve forgotten
who gave me the jigsaw puzzle
in exchange for Danny. The box
covers my crosslegged lap,
shrink-wrapped, and rattling
from inside.

Aquaman in orange rises
with his trident from the sea.
His friends descend from the top of the picture.
Offshore
an oil rig between them burns.

I am six and shirtless and dripping
wet on the trampoline. I am
a superhero. A hovering
jet breathes hoarsely overhead
and I am centered
in its shadow.

I can hear that Elton John song
through the screen door: God
it looks like Daniel
. Inside
with the song the women sing,
between the couch and the coffee table
is my mother on the floor.
 

The box
of kleenex on the carpet
is the biggest thing in the room. I want
to get down into the wounds of my mother,
but I am not supposed to
see, they say.

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Furiously I’ve forgotten
who gave me the jigsaw puzzle
in exchange for Danny. The box
covers my crosslegged lap,
shrink-wrapped, and rattling
from inside.

Aquaman in orange rises
with his trident from the sea.
His friends descend from the top of the picture.
Offshore
an oil rig between them burns.

I am six and shirtless and dripping
wet on the trampoline. I am
a superhero. A hovering
jet breathes hoarsely overhead
and I am centered
in its shadow.

I can hear that Elton John song
through the screen door: God
it looks like Daniel
. Inside
with the song the women sing,
between the couch and the coffee table
is my mother on the floor.
 

The box
of kleenex on the carpet
is the biggest thing in the room. I want
to get down into the wounds of my mother,
but I am not supposed to
see, they say.

I am sent instead to feed
the turtles in the fading plastic pool.
I am sent to feed them lettuce.
I was raised in the realm of grave-digging men.
And the graves we dig—
well.

I like to walk
with my second wife, to move
quietly among the gypsum-caked mesquite.
We listen to the parliament of bickering ducks.
We watch the doubled cranes
alight on the mirror lake.

One day, like a letter lost in the mail
for thirty-two years and opened, I in rage go down
onto the floor. What is the word for
such an attack on memory? Where are its images
of the giver of the puzzle
never solved?

It is in how the mereness of her skeleton
bends down around the machinery of mine
that I can finally let it fail.
How could I have ever known
that this is what you get
in exchange?

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PIVOTS INTO WILDNESShttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/02/02/pivots-into-wildness/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/02/02/pivots-into-wildness/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 02 Feb 2018 08:01:20 +0000 By Aaron Belz http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=90869 No one but Spock and God
are entirely or even
mostly rational. No one
but you and I are entirely
or even half irrational.

And yet I should say,
I’d rather you be you,
mistaking some things
for things that they aren’t,
than you be me, seeing

everything in squares
or arranged along lines.
But I’d rather me be me,
not allowing incompatible
categories to overlap,

than me be you, assuming
buying a vacuum cleaner
means pitching the broom.
I guess one might file this
under the dreaded “you do

you, boo,” but I’d rather
think of it as ontological,
à la Popeye’s I am what I am
followed by the caveat
and that’s all that I am.

But is this all that we are?
No concession of weakness,
an acknowledgement
that the self has a limit
explains, in part, our penchant

for boiled kale and beets.
We build

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No one but Spock and God
are entirely or even
mostly rational. No one
but you and I are entirely
or even half irrational.

And yet I should say,
I’d rather you be you,
mistaking some things
for things that they aren’t,
than you be me, seeing

everything in squares
or arranged along lines.
But I’d rather me be me,
not allowing incompatible
categories to overlap,

than me be you, assuming
buying a vacuum cleaner
means pitching the broom.
I guess one might file this
under the dreaded “you do

you, boo,” but I’d rather
think of it as ontological,
à la Popeye’s I am what I am
followed by the caveat
and that’s all that I am.

But is this all that we are?
No concession of weakness,
an acknowledgement
that the self has a limit
explains, in part, our penchant

for boiled kale and beets.
We build ourselves up
to make ourselves stronger
in body if not in mind,
leave the weird stuff behind.

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Ephemerahttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/01/26/ephemera/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/01/26/ephemera/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 26 Jan 2018 08:01:10 +0000 By Kristina Bicher http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=90732

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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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