a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
to stranger. Each day nearly curls again
with coyotes (ubiquitous!) clasping the bones of our future
mornings. When we must reckon, we apologize badly, phrase fireworks
as fire, and we see the lit-up world for a vow
we never wanted. No answer will lessen our preoccupations
so we divide our nights into segments and shame
at the crude water and tether and replication
of our bodies, each of us in our glancing quiet or looming
quavers, this awful year, seeing how casually against us
it leans in the law. We’re unhinged, and a lot of us
threaten to move anywhere sane: the fjords and cold roads, needing travel
tips to find home. They say it won’t help to be full of anger:
not now not until the ice melts until hell is more than living without.
Before it starts, we are willing to give our names
by the fistful. We package our sentences to volunteer
our locations, and live without questions. Don’t make us be less. What we do
before the wall is see the middle like a window. What we see
as it rises is our feet, bindweed seeding, teasel and purslane.
Above, the sun shifts, unkillable, in the migration of sky.
If we browse the turns before the turns
turn darker, we will have sung every corner of this rounded
city. When light still has instance we will have walked each dirt road
in company with fleeting strangers, talked as community
to the now-trembling ones. But we have lost our direction. Footprints
pass to shadows and seek a path far enough to follow.
Each controversy is a detail removed
from paradise. How do we hold who we are when a chair is denied
to those nearly tripping, the hearth from the people in cold
unsleeved, and from the most hungry a thick slice of meat? Gone
are the depths of our pleasures. We stay very empty,
stay quiet. Though inside we scream.
A sky on one side of the wall; the terrible air
and guilt, but still sky on the other. No one crosses. To find the will
to build a wall vast enough to crack apart, to raise such shade
on those near-verging on this country, to halt the banned ones
who carry unbearable their shadows—who are we if we can
betray such names and think it truth?
& we had hunches: tension, trash bin, blindness.
Or they settled in with their primer and aftermath:
this & this & hunks of our ordinary lives.
We held signs with artful wounds
& shields & articulated
each chorus of what we should avoid. We said questions
no one answered. Not knowing, we made notes
in our beds with our bodies. Scraped & clicked
& our stories of their stories
were sarcastic. We cast side-eyed
because little else tore down the riddles.
We saw them in a catalog of masks.
We saw them put on their helmets.
We laughed in unsatisfactory ways
especially loud in our performance
& some of us burned
with exhaustion. When we woke, some of us hid.
We wouldn’t unclench. Wouldn’t pour out
of our glasses our fear
but we were brusquely positive they were
killing our meadows.
The day it happened there were such winds.
Those winds pressed forward. You wouldn’t believe
all the versions that the sky blew that day
and those many that followed.
Lauren Camp is the author of three books, including One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press), which won the Dorset Prize. It was also a finalist for the 2017 Arab American Book Award and the Sheila Margaret Motton Prize. Her poems have appeared in New England Review, Poetry International, Third Coast, Beloit Poetry Journal and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day. Other literary honors include the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award, and prizes from RHINO and Western Humanities Review. She is a Black Earth Institute Fellow, a staff writer for Poets Reading the News, and the producer/host of “Audio Saucepan” on Santa Fe Public Radio, a program that interweaves music with contemporary poetry. www.laurencamp.com@poetlauren