Click pic to visit poet Philip Metres' home page

Philip Metres – poet, translator, educator
[photo taken by Jesus Crisis at Cleveland’s Literary Cafe on 9/11/2008]

On 24th and South, Philadelphia

We need to envision utopia,
I read today, just before we heard
the crash outside. 

We need to envision utopia
but tonight, love, we gape
at the wind-blasted craters and cliffs
of Arctic ice
filmed in Nanook of the North.  Nanook, nearly
on all fours, gnaws
the frozen leather of his boots—
just to walk outside.  His wife cuts an igloo window

out of ice.  Today, we saw a woman’s face
sculpted into windshield.
She stumbled from the car, holding her head
like a bell.  Someone brought her a blanket,
lay her down.  Broken,

the traffic light closed its eye.  We stood,
the whole street still
crowded, quiet, someone sweeping glass,
red lights pulsing over everything.
I can’t help but admire
Smailović, dressed in full concert attire,
carefully stepping to the bottom
of a Sarajevo bomb crater, pulling the bow
across his cello
twenty-two days, one day for each one dead—
too often, I long for another’s life. 

But sometimes, you call me out
of myself so completely, I cease 
turning from what’s right
in front of me.  Some kids craned out a third story window, 
Bomb Pops dripping to the street.  Together
we watched the woman’s boyfriend
pound on the ambulance door
where the world lay, shaken, amnesiac, wanting him.

* * * * *

This piece appears in Metres’ prize-winning collection To See the Earth
(Cleveland State University Press, 2008)
and is included in the Crisis Chronicles Library by permission

All rights remain with Philip Metres

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