Sunday, July 23, 2006

Perspectives on the Death of Poetry in Beirut

by George Dickerson

The commando cradled the poem in his arm.
When he made the poem speak, it spit stanzas
At pedestrians who fled from poetry.
From the rocket launcher a barrage of poems
Burst like roses in the street. The eloquent shards
Inscribed the houses with an elegy.
Fragments of the poem's petals were found
In the face and chest of a young girl
Overcome by the eternal aspect of poetry.
At night, when we fought with fitful sleep,
The deep guttural throat of poetry roared
Across the rooftops and devoured our dreams.
A wayward poem entered the boy's head
And left his eyes hollow with amazement.
A poem snatched hunger
From twenty people waiting for bread.
Two poems recklessly slit each other's bellies.
The head of a truncated poem
Was proudly impaled on a barricade.
From the cellar, where fifteen poems lay crushed,
Oozed the sweet odor of poetry.
When the plane lifted off over Beirut,
I could see poems shrouding the city,
And I abandoned poetry.

© 2000 George Dickerson
(Prior publ.: Medicinal Purposes Literary Review)

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