Poetry

May 19, 2016 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

By

Anne Babson

 

 

AFTER THE GREAT SPEECH

 

 

The orator stepped away from the platform,

And though people wept and hugged one another,

 

They tossed just as they had trashed things before. They

Praised the rhetoric and rhythm of the fine Jeremiad,

 

But because heeding warnings requires sit-ups, thrift,

Apologies, pregnant pauses, penitence, and pain –

 

They called the words saintly but amended no plans.

And maybe the prophet was false. Maybe Ides would

 

Just be the fifteenth again. Sometimes the fifteenth is

A pay day, isn’t it? And the bags accumulated curbside,

 

The rats ate the garbage, bringing the fleas, who brought

The plague, and yet the blackening buboes got blamed on

 

Popcorn lodged beneath the skin, on moles overexposed

To sunlight – not the cause the great speech decried.

 

The dying hallucinated the orator standing in a choir loft,

Covered in pigeons like a statue, only he was alive and crying.

 

Others gasped last breaths seeing his words flap above them

Bat-like in Helvetica font, folding and unfolding consonants.

 

Much later, after the last mass grave was filled, the air wafted

Lemongrassy, shoe leathery, not magotty, they made a plaque

 

Of the speech, fastened it to a popular shrine for the orator, and

School children wrote book reports about it, but nobody ever

 

Took it seriously after the field trip was over, the paper got turned in,

The grade got assigned, and the text book moved on to the next chapter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HE WAS DESPISED

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” – Isaiah 53:3

 

 

Methods have changed, but the motives stand

As permanently as the Curse. Only blood washes

Away the mats of hair, the charred remains of it.

Then, the howling, a DNA-anchored cyclone, loops

And loops unto third and fourth generations, and it

Passes away only with that same blood’s washing

And rewashing. Madly you have thought yourself

Unimplicated in the executioner’s job description

Listed in the want ads section of The Lubbock Bugle.

You thought yourself exonerated, but those levers

Release poisons hydraulically to make everybody

Woozy. Drunk, you hear its voice cry unto me from

The ground. Despite your protests, you don’t regret

What you have done to rid the world of such scum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anne Babson

My poetry collection The White Trash Pantheon (Vox Press, 2015) and my current chapbook, Poems Under Surveillance (Finishing Line Press, 2013) are currently available in independent bookstores and on Amazon.

The opera for which I wrote the libretto, entitled Lotus Lives, was performed in the New York and elsewhere in 2012 and is currently being considered for broadcast by WGBH Boston, and another operatic work for which I wrote the libretto is slated for production in California in 2017. I have been nominated for the Pushcart four times and have been featured on Poetry Daily.

My work has recently appeared in Iowa Review, Cider Press Review, Southampton Review, Bridges, Barrow Street, Connecticut Review, The Pikeville Review, Rio Grande Review, English Journal, New Song, The Penwood Review, Sow’s Ear, The Madison Review, Atlanta Review, Grasslands Review, WSQ, Global City Review, Comstock Review, California Quarterly, Wisconsin Review, The Red Rock Review, and many other publications. In Europe, my work has appeared in Current Accounts, Iota, Poetry Salzburg, Nth Position and in Ireland, I was in an issue of Crannóg last year and in Asia I was published in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and Yuan Yang. I have also been anthologized multiple times in both the US and the UK and have done residencies at Yaddo and Vermont Studio Center.

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