The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Monday


Morning News
By Marilyn Hacker


Spring wafts up the smell of bus exhaust, of bread
and fried potatoes, tips green on the branches,
repeats old news: arrogance, ignorance, war.
A cinder-block wall shared by two houses
is new rubble. On one side was a kitchen
sink and a cupboard, on the other was
a bed, a bookshelf, three framed photographs.

Glass is shattered across the photographs;
two half-circles of hardened pocket bread
sit on the cupboard. There provisionally was
shelter, a plastic truck under the branches
of a fig tree. A knife flashed in the kitchen,
merely dicing garlic. Engines of war
move inexorably toward certain houses

while citizens sit safe in other houses
reading the newspaper, whose photographs
make sanitized excuses for the war.
There are innumerable kinds of bread
brought up from bakeries, baked in the kitchen:
the date, the latitude, tell which one was
dropped by a child beneath the bloodied branches.

The uncontrolled and multifurcate branches
of possibility infiltrate houses'
walls, windowframes, ceilings. Where there was
a tower, a town: ash and burnt wires, a graph
on a distant computer screen. Elsewhere, a kitchen
table's setting gapes, where children bred
to branch into new lives were culled for war.

Who wore this starched smocked cotton dress? Who wore
this jersey blazoned for the local branch
of the district soccer team? Who left this black bread
and this flat gold bread in their abandoned houses?
Whose father begged for mercy in the kitchen?
Whose memory will frame the photograph
and use the memory for what it was

never meant for by this girl, that old man, who was
caught on a ball field, near a window: war,
exhorted through the grief a photograph
revives. (Or was the team a covert branch
of a banned group; were maps drawn in the kitchen,
a bomb thrust in a hollowed loaf of bread?)
What did the old men pray for in their houses

of prayer, the teachers teach in schoolhouses
between blackouts and blasts, when each word was
flensed by new censure, books exchanged for bread,
both hostage to the happenstance of war?
Sometimes the only schoolroom is a kitchen.
Outside the window, black strokes on a graph
of broken glass, birds line up on bare branches.

"This letter curves, this one spreads its branches
like friends holding hands outside their houses."
Was the lesson stopped by gunfire? Was
there panic, silence? Does a torn photograph
still gather children in the teacher's kitchen?
Are they there meticulously learning war-
time lessons with the signs for house, book, bread?

--------

Gacked from fileg and eiluned: 98% of the teenage population does or has tried smoking pot. If you're one of the 2% who hasn't, copy & paste this into your journal. I'm not putting this in here as any sort of judgment on people who have or do regularly; I'm completely in favor of legalized marijuana, which was made illegal more because of tobacco and alcohol producers lobbying than because of actual health concerns. I've never smoked a cigarette either, and I've only been drunk once in my life -- a single evening bent over the toilet was enough.


A close-up of panels on a truck decorated for the Silk Road exhibition two years ago.


And here's the truck in its entirety.


A little model pirate ship atop one of the Smithsonian golf carts for people who have trouble walking around the festival.


Hibiscus near the fountain in the Sculpture Garden.


Wet weather means beautiful fungus.


Red-winged blackbird among the cattails.


Some kind of caterpillar. This is not color-corrected, though I did use a flash; those are actually the colors of the bug and the bark in extreme close-up.


Snake in the grass.
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I have no vehicle today, as the van is getting its oil changed, so am trying to get done things around the house that did not get done while we were out and about this weekend. It's gorgeous out, too. But the kids are in camp this week! Whee!
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