Tuesday, July 10, 2012


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


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.