SPLIT THIS ROCK: Poems of Provocation & Witness

Susan Tichy



Midnight at a desk .....a girl
What could she write if not her own

Despair she thought but it wasn’t that
Traffic on the other side of trees

A tragic girl .....or so she thought
Midnight, fifteen, she

Tangled first this first
Simplicity of lies, she thought

And if the true is good then
And if the true is good then

Speak, she thought, and to but to

‘To begin interrogation
Wrap your subject in barbed wire’

It’s in the manual, in the book a
Tangled stutter building one

Series, stack, entablature she
Held up with her anger no

Her fear no
Traffic on the other side of trees

She is trying to paint a tree
That hides a gun .....no

Begin again
Trying to paint a gun

That hides a tree inside
A thought a tree

Between a thought and an idea is
A grammar is a gun .....no

Begin again

Education from a certain distance

‘Helpless children radical’
‘Not what they attempting’

Or more probably caused
The point permitted .....progress .....step

To cry newspapers cry ‘I am’
Devoted to an excess

Of peace truth sex a
Raw war every daily lies

There camouflaged
As gun what art encloses

Garden of perfectly possible
All of it lying still all

Forms a stack a stutter an
Entablature .....inscription of

Pure sound which cannot lie

Yet not all anguish yields
To Eros

Pause and effect some part of it
Her own blood and black paint

Down to the size of a comma

The girl you left behind you loves you
Loves you not, an

‘Education cadre’
Book sez don’t bother with one like that

Just put her in a cage until she starves

So study stutter
Warn to mourn

Where page resembled distance, or
Was meant to, say

‘Marcuse on Creative Destruction’ or
‘A Research Guide for Developing Flame Weapons’

A kind of scholastic hobby where
Words could reassemble

Whole bodies apart from them
It was a place like any other

Midnight at a desk
Where poems turn unbeseemingly

Traditional, traditionally
They say that art consoles



Susan Tichy’s books are Bone Pagoda (Ahsahta Press), A Smell of Burning Starts the Day (Wesleyan University Press), and The Hands in Exile (Random House), which was chosen for the National Poetry Series. Ahsahta will publish her fourth collection, Gallowglass, in 2010. Her poems, collaborations, and mixed-genre works have been published in the US and Britain, most recently in such journals as 42opus, Agni, Beloit Poetry Journal, CutBank, Denver Quarterly, Fascicle, Free Verse, Indiana Review, and Runes. She lives in Colorado and in Virginia, where she teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at George Mason University. She also serves as poetry editor for Practice: New Writing + Art.


Published in Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 2008.