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& Bless: Poems

I’m afraid to say anything or nothing, I’m white & unalterably broken.

1968

A story about what changes and what remains the same, in just six words.

A Dress Rehearsal for the Apocalypse

History howls for direction so I remind him how the hero was lost.

A Farmer’s Life: Xiwuqi, Inner Mongolia

For my vacation last summer, I visited the Bateer family in Xiwuqi.

A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route

Neither blood nor belonging accounted for my presence in Ghana.

A Lebanese Feast

Lebanon’s dreams of a homeland were fading with every rocket launch.

A Marriage Contract

They went to pray for the dead. It was important to shed some tears.

A Master at Work

Man is always beginning everything anew, even in his own life.

A Model Prisoner

A Partial History of Lost Causes

Chess was a humiliation that hung over him like a leper’s bell.

A Portion of Your Loveliness

My daughter’s favorite game is Holocaust. She’s quite inventive.

A Weary Desperado

I was convinced she’d be back in the morning, like the sun.

A Writer’s Beginnings

I was writing copy for cheapo furniture for a crummy ad agency.

Addendum and Other Poems

The animals are dying. All the beautiful women are dying too.

Adventures of a Would-Be Filmmaker

Since I am in my seventies, it is now or never, and I know it.

After Noguchi and Other Poems

Crows rasp from branches, scatter debris across unfinished plots.

After Saddam

He said he had come back to the prison because it was home.

All That Floats

Devanand Simon was twenty-five when the bodies fell from the sky.

Alva Watches the Previous President Fly Away

Alva knows the storm is coming. The ground is falling away.

America

I stand within her walls with not a shred of terror, not a word of jeer.

America, I Do Not Call Your Name Without Hope

Lost land, this is a song for the scars on your back, for your blistered feet.

American Paradoxes

I recoil from the certitude that religion can give a person; it’s horrific.

American Standard Version

Refuge, Your church is often a house. Your Word is a house.

Aramaic

I tried mightily, but no longer could I ladle those ancient words into the air.

At Sea

I only feel that here, only here, in this one place, a small rise.

Badger Mountain

Keely finally stops crying when they step outside. The shock of cold.

Bald Eagle

Your image is on my credit card, you and the old red, white, and blue.

Be Patient

The dead children were wheeled away, covered with white sheets.

Beachfront

In other words, beachfronts like Bolaño’s and mine are Nowhere.

Beautiful Daughters

I hate it here, but I’ll make the best of it, because that’s what mothers do.