Poem of the Week | June 07, 2021

This week’s Poem of the Week is “The Regime” by Uri Rosenshine!

Uri Rosenshine is a poet based in New Haven, Connecticut. He is a diligent gardener, a careful reader, and lives with his partner and two angelfish named Tony and Cleo. His poetry has appeared in Nachleben, an online literary journal, and his first collection, Vivid Partitions, is anticipated to be published with MadHat Press.

Author portrait by Clare Fisher.


The Regime

in comes the ghost to complain
of its unhappy union with the communities
of the living

Abraham Teixeira
son of João Pedro Teixeira
leader of the peasant league
is killed by the regime
on the road leading from Sapé

tears filling his beard
and waving a fist he says
let it be recorded—let it be recorded
that we are against all systems
no system helps the poor

his old mother beside him vigorously nodding
why do we no longer hear of the We?
they are all dead like my husband
so we talk of justice
but we no longer say revolution
the word that is like bread

cypress trees emerge
above a stony ridge
a ruined house
where no one sleeps
a broken fridge

I wander down a pathway
like a wheel on a string
to render my report

tall shrubs and old machines
the flesh of trees
the silver air and colorless leaves

the sun is sitting in the sky
like a statement in a rock—a promise
frozen till it is fulfilled

I say, let there be no dogma—
I dogmatize

there’s the prison
the razor and the mirror as they were left
the wire chairs in the little plaza

the pit where at gunpoint
musicians deposited their horns
and scholars their glasses
the mantle where the general installed his picture

if we outpace this dream
and wake from the regime

shaking off a beard of tears
what will we see?

a pack of shiny birds
soaring in a V across
a liberal sky
an emblem of the We?

looking down, I find a bullet in my chest
I go around talking with strangers
smoothly, relaxed I’ve been shot—I’m dying
Here, look
I say, showing it off

I find my way to the apartment
I shower and apply cologne
I water the plants, feed the parrot
even have a smoke on the balcony
I meet friends at a dinner party

there are drinks and a roast
at dessert I finally expire
in the middle of telling the joke
about an old woman who smokes in the rain
using condoms

my face white and my torso washed in blood


Author’s Note

“The Regime” is based on a 1984 documentary film by Brazilian filmmaker Eduardo Coutinho, Cabra Marcado Para Morrer, about the leader of the peasant league of Paraíba, killed by political opponents in 1962. The film was begun in the 1960s, but was interrupted by military dictatorship until 1984. Because of this, the film ends up being a sort of meditation on the discontinuity of time, or so it seemed to me. At the time, I was into such films as Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil, another discontinuous temporal meditation. “The Regime” was my attempt to reproduce that mode in poetry, which is a luckily natural place for it. I owe special thanks to my teacher, Louise Glück, for helping me revise this piece.