Cloud View Poets
If I speak for the dead, I must leave
this animal of my body,
I must write the same poem over and over,
for an empty page is the white flag of their surrender.
If I speak for them, I must walk on the edge
of myself, I must live as a blind man
who runs through rooms without
touching the furniture.
Yes, I live. I can cross the streets asking "What year is it?"
I can dance in my sleep and laugh
in front of the mirror.
Even sleep is a prayer, Lord,
I will praise your madness, and
in a language not mine, speak
of music that wakes us, music
in which we move. For whatever I say
is a kind of petition, and the darkest
days must I praise.
Poem from Cloud View Poets by Ilya Kaminsky
BODY OF WAR
I remember a flower floating on water. What do I call it?
White blossom swimming in place? Brother holding brother?
To staunch bleeding apply gauze and pressure, then bandage.
I remember trawlers. Lean brown men. Nets laid in the brine
like fine doilies. Where red tide meets blue, sister caressing sister.
If there's a wound to the abdomen, inject morphine, tell them
it doesn't look bad, you've seen worse and theirs looks good,
pretty good. I remember gathering this part to fit that part. How
can I tell you? That it didn't bother me? There was no time to think?
That it was just a bad dream? Some nights I lie in bed trembling,
and if I try to speak, only consonant sounds come out, words
without vowels. Arm without "a." Leg without "e." And head.
How do I say head?
Poem from Cloud View Poets by Joseph Zaccardi