Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

Posts tagged ‘2011’


Because I understand that there is no money to be made in poetry (except the occasionally $30 contest award) I’m going to post my poem, The Opposite of War. Last week it got 2nd place in the Smith Moseley Award for Poetry at the SWA conference =) It’s about the World Scout Jamboree in 2007.

The Opposite of War

I’ve lost my accent somewhere.
Maybe I dropped in the Thames,
or it fell victim to a ghost of the Tower,
or a Windsor swan plucked it from my fingers like bread,
but I hope it was swallowed, drowned,
trampled by polished boots
during the changing of the palace guard
because I have never felt so screamingly blended
and whole. I could never find it anyway
in this seek-and-flutter of color—
Skin like rice and beans and bread,
Vegetarian choices and tea.

And the uniforms:
A modern exotic salad,
with British, American, Norwegian, Polish, Korean,
iceberg khaki,
Japanese spinach leaves, curly banana crisps,
topped with Malaysian mangoes,
Chilean blueberries,
rich German raspberries,
a sprig of French Parsley,
and fruits and seeds like stagelights
all topped with white summer light for a dressing.

One line seemed universal:
“Where are you from?”
One line in London streets,
Roman exhibits, and the Queen’s roses
threaded with bees,
echoed later when tears fell from beneath
a cowboy hat
onto a lotus flower—
and though we never closed at night,
the wedges of our worlds
unfurled and overlapped,
tied with “Where are you from?”

And the Prince sliced chocolate cake for us with his helicopter,
golden dragons slithered from camp to camp,
business cards fluttered everywhere like leaves.
We did more than I can list.
We ran mountains with metal slides,
built catapults, rang church bells,
painted, planted, traded, sailed.
But mostly we danced
in every language.

Forty thousand of us—
dancing to O-zone,
cursing at vending machines,
and arguing about African education—
from 216 countries
all over the Earth—
each with a different view
of God above it
and Satan inside it—
We babbled about the falling ame
and family.

I’d never felt, heard, eaten so many wonders—
and I’d never seen a gentleman cry like that,
screaming through the arms around him
that she was a blond half-Asian.
She had died in his arms four months before.

In the thick and thesis of our new summary of earth,
we were reminded of things that fall away.
And did soldiers guide us all here by the hands,
disappear so that we could curse at vending machines
as one world, one family?
Because if the World Wars
The Trail of Tears, the Boxer Rebellion,
The Rape of Nanking, the Ravage of Africa,
The Russian Starvations–

And if

Darfur, Sudan

Georgia, Europe

Mumbai, India

The Gaza Strip

If these things wound and kill,
our many colors
evoke life with their vividness
life that manifests as stop-and-go conga lines
neckerchiefs of many signatures
international flirtation.
They keep it safe
by sealing it in pictures that steal souls
and snatching business cards straight out of the wind.
Our blending colors heal and keep alive.

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