Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ad/verse

*
A poem by Glenn Shaheen, from the Spring 2012 issue of Ploughshares:
 

ISRAEL

Steam lifting from the highways, ascending
to the heavens beneath the misery of commute,
fires below the pavement. I have become

a better driver by the standards of Houston.
I will hurt somebody if they deserve to be hurt.
No, ok, no, but I’m an expert in menace. All

this blinding steel and glass, we’ve made
the world a brighter place. They tell me Israel
is a great problem. I don’t care. They tell me

it is our final hope. The world is a maze of
definitions and borders, problems, signs painted
in an array of colors scientifically chosen to

arrest the vision. Israel is a place that rolls
from the tongue. There are no enemies unless
you make it so, unless you inch menacingly

over the paint. The album is criticized for its
lack of structure, for the singer’s refusal to
repeat herself. Hold me, hold me, the heater

is broken, cars are being pulled over outside.
Adults are in the park, groping casually over
glasses of wine they’re not supposed to have.

It’s all true, I am weak. Give me a nation
to hate, to love, to touch and trust the borders of.
Come here, entreat me - inside of you, on you,

what difference does it make. Nobody to call
and nobody who would come out. Come forth,

fond wrench, and do something different to me.


/


I hope to write some thoughts about this poem in an upcoming post . . . thanks to Mr. Shaheen for allowing me to reprint it here.


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5 comments:

  1. I'll return to the questions I tried to raise there in another context, in a future post. I've misplaced my copy of the issue where his poem appears, and I want to be fair and not misquote it— their feature only quotes its first few stanzas—

    ReplyDelete
  2. i found his note about the "inspiration" for his poem very puzzling — but as I say, I think I'll return to my questions regarding that note and its relationship to the poem in a future post, after I find the poem and am able to quote from all of it—

    ReplyDelete
  3. but it does seem ridiculous that Ploughshares feels it must shield its contributors from any adverse comment, as if they were highschool sophomores in an Intro to Creative Writing class . . .

    ReplyDelete
  4. Here's the whole poem, man! Criticize away.

    GS

    ISRAEL

    Steam lifting from the highways, ascending
    to the heavens beneath the misery of commute,
    fires below the pavement. I have become

    a better driver by the standards of Houston.
    I will hurt somebody if they deserve to be hurt.
    No, ok, no, but I’m an expert in menace. All

    this blinding steel and glass, we’ve made
    the world a brighter place. They tell me Israel
    is a great problem. I don’t care. They tell me

    it is our final hope. The world is a maze of
    definitions and borders, problems, signs painted
    in an array of colors scientifically chosen to

    arrest the vision. Israel is a place that rolls
    from the tongue. There are no enemies unless
    you make it so, unless you inch menacingly

    over the paint. The album is criticized for its
    lack of structure, for the singer’s refusal to
    repeat herself. Hold me, hold me, the heater

    is broken, cars are being pulled over outside.
    Adults are in the park, groping casually over
    glasses of wine they’re not supposed to have.

    It’s all true, I am weak. Give me a nation
    to hate, to love, to touch and trust the borders of.
    Come here, entreat me - inside of you, on you,

    what difference does it make. Nobody to call
    and nobody who would come out. Come forth,
    fond wrench, and do something different to me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. thanks for posting it, Mr. Shaheen. I've wanted to reconsider it for a while, since it is one of the poems in my "readthrough" of that Ploughshares issue that in retrospect I feel I may have underestimated or misread. It's certainly better than I gave it credit for in that earlier post, and I will return to it and hope to appreciate and or understand it a bit more at some later time.

    ReplyDelete