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Poems from A Darker, Sweeter String


Agents

who who who woke up to say I didn't
who who who woke up to say I did
who who raised naked palms before who
who cried whose face was a purple flower

who blessed the soldier fresh from killing
who who who will wear black ribbon
who wrapped grenades round whose waist like a lover
who clipped flesh and laid gauze over

who talked like a tourist while bombs arced around her
who who who flew in flew low flew over
who fired who ordered fire
who who turned away who turned away


The suicides

we're circling the hole where the ones
who abandoned us lie          absent
    electric

we're pacing a ring in the ground
to contain what they spilled

yet we can't keep our eyes off its surface
we're greedy to ladle the crimson porridge

to beat out the krik krac of tin foil and bone
then              traitors      we shout

take it back     for the sake of each morning
you summoned the figments together

for the sake of the baba whose cow fed
all the children until there was none


Post-war deployment

It is thought that cows' unhurried lowing,
the rise and fall in the evening of toad ululation,
the dense sweet penetration of grasses
in air drawn through the nostrils and deep into lungs
will offer our minds a place to return to
from the caves where they cower,
that the route back may be read
in the riffling surface of streams
below which bones are caressed by cold current.

It is thought with the sight of the pain bird alighting
and preening each of its feathers gold and particular
that silence will hang like a peach
until one of us reaches to pluck it
and keening begins that will last through exhaustion,
that does not punish or lie.


Poems from Calendars of Fire