Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Installation/Occupation"/a poem

In light of the ongoing violence in Gaza, and the bruising continuation of the same kind of horrific narratives, I want to turn to poetry. I'm going to post some poems about the conflict that might illuminate the narrative, that might turn it into the light in a new way, not because poetry can end this horror, but because it is a kind of making. It is what I have. The following poem was published in Mizna, and in the volume To See the Earth, where its typographically-accurate presentation shows lacunae throughout the lines (I can't figure out the html!). This poem is based on a story told by Palestinian artist Vera Tamari to Israeli journalist Amira Hass.

"Installation/Occupation" by Philip Metres
after Vera Tamari in Ramallah

there was a time you couldn’t paint red white
green or black could be a flag imagine

you couldn’t paint poppies or watermelon
now you can paint all you want & yet this state

of uncertainty will the doors hold out
can you leave your house can you walk around

this occupation when the tanks come
crack down drive the sidewalks for fun for weeks

all these smashed cars lining the city streets
my friend’s red Beetle flipped over its legs in the air

so in a field we paved a road to nowhere & placed
the crushed in a column as if in a rush hour

line of traffic we had an opening at our piece
a huge party on our road & then walked home

before dawn a column of Merkavas
came back my house was opposite the field

& I could see the tanks pull up & yield
two heads emerged from turrets trying to read

the scene then went back inside the hatch
& ran over the exhibit over & over

again backwards and forwards then shelled it
& for good measure christened it with piss

I caught it all on video this metamorphosis
of the piece there’s the story of Duchamp

once the workmen installing his exhibit
dropped a crate of paintings the floor

shattering the glass Duchamp ran over
thrilled now he said now it is complete


michael salinger said...

tyrone said...

This is one of my favorite poems from the book...


Philip Metres said...

Thanks Tyrone--I'll be seeing you later this month! And Michael, thanks for the link.