Poetry | December 01, 2009
Poetry Feature: Daniel Anderson
Featuring the poems:
- Pardon and Amnesty
- Provinces (featured as Poem of the Week, Feb. 9, 2010)
- The Hills, Beautiful Hills
Moonglow projections on a screen reveal
A drunken row of huts.
It’s difficult to tell if those are goats
Or just emaciated cows
Grazing at weeds among some haycarts.
It is a chiseled, godforsaken place.
Unmapped. Ambiguous. Potato-beige.
Nothing glints. Nothing sparkles.
Not one thing nourishes the eye.
But lately, on the hamlet’s western edge,
There have been strange movements-
Convoys of trucks arriving after dark.
The construction of a generator shed.
An ever-slight increase
In local population.
To get there would require,
For one of these distinguished, graying men,
Light packing and a taxi ride,
The shuttle up to JFK,
A change of flights in Frankfurt, then
Another eighteen hours over land.
Ice paddles in a water-filled carafe.
Someone has brought in pastries on a tray.
A pewter, blue light bathes
This undersecretary and his staff
Who must consider what it means
Now that reliable informants say
The silo and the splintered barn conceal
A weapons cache and drums of surplus fuel.
Within three days the village well,
That laundry drying on the line,
The smokehouse and the school
Will lie in calculated heaps
Of bloody rags and planks, while you or I
Watch college football on TV,
Or bitch that it’s been weeks
Since we’ve had any decent rain.
It’s true. The purples and magentas drain
From our hydrangeas, and the lawn
Is August-straw and parched.
Our fig trees and magnolias weep
From nearly seven years of drought.
Each night we track the surging cost
Of gasoline, the market’s steep,
The polar ice caps melt.
The sea’s green waters warm and rise.
It is a dull, protracted age
Of worry, ambiguity, and doubt,
And yet the neighbor boys play otherwise
Who, armed with plastic M-16s, patrol
The pruned, bird-busy hedges where
Three others twitter, shush themselves, and wait.
Crouching like fedayeen,
They rest their rifle barrels on a gate,
And when they open fire
Their girlish laughter nearly drowns
The clack-clack-clacking of their guns.
But there are also other sounds:
Wind chimes. A hammer somewhere whacking nails.
The sighing of a passing car.
Our small tomato garden goes to seed.
Reading her magazine, my wife enjoys
The tender blessings of the evening sun,
And everything seems kissed
With coral, gold, and lime.
Thank god, I sometimes think though never say,
That this is where we are.
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