Monday, July 24, 2006

Sharon Dolin

3 poems from Current Events

Who You

are,   you might have been / framer of your narrative:

inveterate   cap-wearer,   brow-furrower
weakens the tie between proper
                                                               and name

Your were whirrs inside the motor-motive are.

Action are you or memory-bundle
vicissitudes of others' longings

doesn't your pillow own you call you by
                                                                              your secret name

nomen    nombre    nomina
omen    gnomon . . .

When in Lisboa you sport a boa
board the yellow tram to the Baixa
to look for the ghost of Pessoa.

your name suffuses with suffixes: -son, -sky, -zweig, -traub

Do not ask for whom to tell unfolds:
It tells the self.
                           (It wields the wail [within the well])
It's hell to tell [for thee & me].
If I were you (and you are we)
displacement would hardly figure
in the feeling-swirl you're tempted to say
is who we be.

Westerner, you read obituaries of obscure inventors.
Indonesian, you wear a crowd. Or shroud.

Have you financed a massacre—your name is a poster.

(Reporter / killed     peerless unpurled)

Or do you go nameless: mommy    nanny    taxi
driver—the news barely grazes you in the playground or car

unless you're blown to bits or saved from fire or the collapsed mine

But who is the person to whom things happen

(scandal not a name but an outcome)

or to exclaim: Who the devil Who on earth
                                                                                          has done what?

When, Then

             It was and then it wasn't.   An hour
ago.  Two days before. That split second
             boarding the bus. (It was just before 8 a.m.)
He looked like a terrorist in his red bulgy shirt
             when he didn't pay. Then he wasn't.  Just
an exploding belt of ball bearings. Three women
             in frocks sitting there with their heads blown off.

             Why intrudes. They want to see us dead.
Now now now. Not now. Before you came.
             Before you were born. (Or he. Laughing with
the Boss at the cash machine before they crashed the plane tomorrow.)
             Mother at wounded boy's bedside while father's
home rejoicing when he hears his son's a suicide
              bomber. This when ensnares where.

Beit Safafa refugee camp. Afterwards. The next day.
             A year later in Lower Manhattan (Towers burned,
legs crushed) she is still in hospital. And you, over morning tea
             mourning the morning of the day before.
They want to kill us in the when of every
             where. Cry of why. For Ishmael's cold tears? For the when of who
was there first? For Isaac's hoarse laugh? And for what
             kind of God?

Why as in

Wherefore. Motives.
Causes that produce
unasked-for effects. (Who shall live . . .)

As in reproach. Fist-
shaking at sky. At your lover-
other. Maker. (Who shall die . . . ) Resist:

Why couldn't he have been                   elsewhere?
For what reason did I have to lose you?
Paradigm of unanswerables.

As if thinking it through
pieced the puzzle / lessened the ire—
On account of which / in spite of       new

virus discovered. Or exiles' dream-desire.
Attaches to who. Emboldens what.
And where did she. And when. Never

back where you started.
from. Secret cause. Works around
the kiss. Beetles brows.

Opens the oh-my-god mouth
into an afterimage of oh no . . . yes.
Editorials on the soul. Accounts

for wars and local turf skirmishes
in the sandbox, the West Bank.
Island no one wants

until the other side sends in tanks.
That's mine. My
Temple Mount. / My mosque.

Call it the key
to an unbuilt room
you discover—too late—

you may not enter        by asking.

Sharon Dolin is the author of Realm of the Possible (Four Way Books, 2004), Serious Pink (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003), and Heart Work (The Sheep Meadow Press, 1995), as well as four poetry chapbooks. In 2006-07, Ms. Dolin is Poet-in-Residence at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts. She directs The Center for Book Arts Annual Letterpress Poetry Chapbook Competition and is a curator for the Center Broadsides Reading Series. She also teaches at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y and at Poets House.