Sunday, March 20, 2011

A History of White People - Jerome Sala

white people were paid well
not to witness
the fact that they were white

you know the theory
white isn't a color
but color's unlimited absence

white goes with anything
that's why it seemed fair that white people
conquered the world

they were the real invisible men
cause they could perch on top of a country
and say they weren't there

they could move through its neighborhoods
like mysterious aliens
with this difference:

in ufological lore
aliens often infiltrate a world
without its inhabitants knowing about it

but when white people invaded
everyone could see them
but themselves

Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written - Margaret Atwood

This is the place

you would rather not know about
This is the place that will inhabit you
This is the place you cannot imagine
This is the place that will finally defeat you

where the word why shrivels and empties
itself. This is famine.

There is no poem you can write
about it, the sandpits
where so many were buried
& unearthed, the unendurable
pain still traced on their skins.

We make wreaths of adjectives for them,
we count them like beads,
we turn them into statistics and litanies
and into poems like this one.

Nothing works,
They remain what they are.

The woman lies on the wet cement floor
under the unending light,
needle marks on her arms put there
to kill the brain
and wonders why she is dying

She is dying because she said.
She is dying for the sake of the word.
It is her body, silent
and fingerless, writing this poem.

It resembles an operation
but it is not one

nor despite the spread legs, grunts
& blood, is it a birth.

Partly, it's a job
partly it's a display of skill
like a concerto.

It can be done badly
or well, they tell themselves.

Partly, it's an art.

The facts of this world seen clearly
are seen through tears;
why tell me then
there is something wrong with my eyes?

To see clearly and without flinching,
without turning away,
this is agony, the eyes taped open
two inches from the sun.

What is it you see then?
Is it a bad dream, a hallucination?
Is it a vision?
What is it you hear?

The razor across the eyeball
is a detail from an old film.
It is also a truth.
Witness is what you must bear.

In this country you can say what you like
because no one will listen to you anyway,
it's safe enough, in this country you can try to write
the poem that can never be written,
the poem that invents
nothing and excuses nothing,
because you invent and excuse yourself each day.

Elsewhere, this poem is not invention.
Elsewhere, this poem takes courage.
Elsewhere, this poem must be written
because the poets are already dead.

Elsewhere, this poem must be written
as if you are already dead,
as if nothing more can be done
or said to save you.

Elsewhere you must write this poem
because the is nothing more to do.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods - George Gordon, Lord Byron

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.