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Poetry

Poetry is Dead, Says the Poet

John Sibley Williams

I breathe in the factory’s whistle
and grate my eyes across the lines
bombers, trains, and smoke don’t leave behind
in the sky.

Today my hands will catalog five thousand
indescript metal parts that I dream
could construct a house
with five thousand grandfather clocks.
Ah, self-deception!
Solitude is too inert a word
for distancing hands from their actions.

I read Neruda , Aragon , Vallejo
to the perfect clattering machines,
a revolution of working parts flesh-born
that crank, hiss, crank, gossip
and move so much they cannot lie still
nor move more than flesh.

Someone has removed the sparrow nest
with its eight hungry red mouths
from the dogwood by my window.
Somewhere a war is grabbing at its stalks
but leaving embedded the roots.
I wave my arms like a turbine
and howl desperate poetry
that could not stop a different war.

The sparrows are vanished
and I read with one hand
to forget the other
and my whistling along a soldier’s hymn
that, I’ve read, defied
and upon victory’s absorption
of all things contrary
grew to please Franco.
Voices do not change,
bird or man or time,
nor leave behind streaks in the sky.

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