SPLIT THIS ROCK: Poems of Provocation
ABIDE IN THE IRONY
We gloried for hours in seventeenth century masterworks,
Deep in subterranean rooms of Sakler Gallery,
Hokusai’s Japanese ukiyo-e art.
Every fold of fabric painted precise,
Chrysanthemum, crane and willow tree,
Cases filled with the steady hand of four hundred year old genius.
We arose to Spring Washington in a full blossomed Saturday,
Walked to the Roosevelt memorial
Four rooms of frieze and fixed type
salutes to civil liberty in granite.
Beloved monument to the interner of
descendents of Japanese ukiyo-e artists.
At the end of the 2nd World War,
We retired to the reflecting pool,
Walked beneath the pink colored branches of
A long ago Emperor’s shame-faced gift.
Felt the silk fabric of history folding and enfolding again.
UNCLE SAM REGRETS
Today on the radio it’s Chad.
Tomorrow it may be Cuba again.
And it seems like Baghdad will forever
Be exploding inside of my head.
My beard is brittle now
And I don't understand these wars anymore.
The Philippines? The Kaiser?
Who was I supposed to be mad at again?
The nice lady who still checks in on me
Says it's bad for my blood pressure,
All the rages,
All the empty grumbling.
Even a symbol can reach its limits.
When did I get so old anyway?
But they still call me.
And I arrive dutifully,
Change into my uniform
Rollup my sleeves and scowl
the defiant call to arms.
God I am so tired.
So tired and alone.
No woman would have me with this
Constant drumming in my ears.
And late at night I see them,
the thousands of flower faced boys
I called forth.
Bodies of ash and bone,
buried in the soil of a hundred places,
I knew nothing about
and struggled to pronounce correctly.
Dan Vera is a poet and writer living in Washington,
DC. He's the editor of the Gay culture journal White Crane,
co-founder of VRZHU Poetry Press, founder of Brookland Area Writers
& Artists, and a member of DC Poets Against War, and the Triangle
Artists Group. His poetry has appeared in Delaware Poetry Review,
DC Poets Against The War, Konch, Shaping Sanctuary, and Pacifica
Radio’s nationally broadcast Peace Watch program.
in Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 2008.
more by this author:
Evolving City Issue
Kim Roberts and Vera on DC
Author's Houses: Forebears Issue
Intro to the US Poets Laureate Issue (Fall 2009)
Dan Vera on Four
Laureates: US Poets Laureate Issue
Tenth Anniversary Issue
Vera: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue
Vera: Floricanto Issue
Dan Vera on Sterling A. Brown: Poetic Ancestors Issue