Susan M. Schultz
For the students in Jon Morse’s English 325 class
Orchid and anthurium: white with purple centers, wax-like red blossoms that last even when they’re cut. The rest of the garden goes to seed, ferns taking over pots, a natural domino effect. I vow to give up war in my poetry, but it keeps breaking out.
Last night’s wind stilled. Thrushes noisy by the front door, small birds with pipe organs. Sangha says the palms grow seeds so birds can eat. As we speak, the air begins to move in drafts.
I want to write a poetry of spirit, call out to some god to affirm our doubts, even as he grants us sand castles, nerf balls, little league trophies, the small green bird that nips at the long leaves of a plant outside my study. The image conjured up is that of “the extremist cleric, al-Sadr,” his black beard, his skull-cap.
When the bride was young, the Times reports, she wanted to be the first female pope.
Wind stirs the trees again. Wind is not torture, though the trees appear pained. Rain is not torture. A kiss on the cheek in the morning is not torture. I insist there is still context.
The prison was never razed, never re-named. Sangha comes toward me, his head inside a plastic basket. I’m in a cage! he calls out.
The hooded man was invented by a surrealist, wires attached to him by some amateur prison Edison. Ubu roi on a box. What lights up lights up outside that cinder block room. Summer brings lightning bugs to Virginia; that’s where the torturers came from.
You can get there by dragonfly, the Hendrix lyric goes. A fighter! he yells to the screech of engines over Ko`olau shopping center.
The young man asks if, when I use the “I” in my poems, I want that “I” always to be part of a community. We Americans do not do these things. I do.