Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Letter to Barack Obama"/an inaugural poem



"Letter to Barack Obama (Solstice, 2008)" by Philip Metres (pmetres@jcu.edu)


Yes, you’ll need to stay alive
to the possibilities
of disappointing us, who believe
you’d change everything

& yesterday. To dodge bullets,
those ballots of the disaffected
& the entrenched,
their undisclosed locations

in our collective mind. To stare
whole buildings back
from rubble of foreclosure
& condemnation, stand watch

over bridges to nowhere
we’ve never known, & always
someone’s somewhere. To end stop
/loss & unlawful

combatants, extraordinary
renditions & waterboarding,
the cool abstractions that make
torture into Pet Sounds.

You’ll need to pierce the wall
of sound that power makes,
or tent yourself in your living
room & slowly go mad. Stay long

enough that we grow
used to you, scion of the globe,
become mundane as a dollar,
flawed, iconic, yet alive.

So when you’re called to kill
in our name, like a lover
who’s slept with another,
we’ll never let you live

it down, though we will
never leave. Nor forgive.

6 comments:

Cynthia Cruz said...

Gorgeous and brave. Thank you.

Philip Metres said...

thanks, Cynthia. That was one of those after-midnight arrivals--kept me up on the solstice.

Anonymous said...

Love the poem. Hope you're doing well. I need to come in some time to chat; I miss your insights!

- Rina

Philip Metres said...

thanks, Rina, I hope you're doing well. Law school is full on, isn't it.

Joseph Ross said...

Phil -

I've been sitting with this poem for the last couple of days. It's rich and yet spare at the same time. I love it. It speaks many different words, all true. We expect too much, we are hopeful and vengeful, all that. Nice work.

Steve said...

I like this, too, and yes, like Joe Ross, get "rich and spare" at the same time (which is ever a Quality combination).

Incidentally, the "end stop / /loss," Phil, is that ending "stop losses" of playing stock market and shorting a stock?

over bridges to nowhere
we’ve never known, & always
someone’s somewhere. To end stop
/loss & unlawful

I don't understand the last stanza and will have to read a few more times. I know that when I do get it, the last stanza, I'll like it, though. Nice poming, P.M.! Again, Yes, both rich and spare, Cool!

Steve Tills :)