War On (later)

I’ve been reading Edward Hirsch’s new book, The Heart of American Poetry. It’s very good, and I’m glad I decided to splurge for it, though I continue to think the industry’s continued use of “hardbacks” is wasteful, overly costly, but mainly, the hardback with paper cover is not as pleasant to hold and read as, say, the Penguin Classics, quality paperbacks not nearly as costly as the hardback with its really useless Victorian-like jacket cover. The size of the Hirsch book though is conducive to poetry lines, and the Library of America copy is a sound book production. Anyway, Hirsch makes a comment about Theodore Roethke, essentially that Rothke thought each line of a poem should stand alone, work as if a poem on its own; thus Roethke’s sparing use of enjambment.

As an exercise, I’ve reproduced the last post, a poem titled War On, to eliminate enjambments in favor of the possibility of stand alone lines (a few other changes too, one might discover):

War On (later)

Somewhere usually a war on near or far
I’m on watch in an audience of silence
in a theatre or church reminded darkly
sacrifice need not be so bloody violent
those preoccupied by their own war know
the maps the open fields the rivers and farms
i remember watching one of the wars on TV
donald rumsfeld mumbled something known
his Iraq he said the first war of the new century
and unknown from the announcer’s booth
a new statistic the fans could not deny
his hysterical perspective born in me
between WWII and Korea boom destined
in line for boot camp for the Vietnam Error
at 18 already sick of this phony war business
how quickly young boys on a beach bathing
become old men in dress greens that drab color
pollutes the wettest shades of nature’s grasses
leaves ferns of fields and waves of oceans.

The murderer attends Mass fills the pew
the fakery has achieved so much so little
frivolity yet the beauty of this war seems
no one remains who believes in war
the reasons for
not the hand
that signs the paper
not that hand
covered in oil and blood
does not cry like the hands of a working man
tears seeping over the banks of blue
rivers coursing through a field of skin.

War is the natural order of things human
authority comes down as heavy as a tank
made with human hands
made to crawl along tracks of its own
making through the green fields
somebody’s home tornado torn
the outdoor clothesline scatters
the chickens and dogs bark
the baby barely crawling sees
the tanks for what they are inhuman
monsters driven by human machines
men made to march made to doom
demented torches lighting one
step ahead sinking into the dulce
earth the metallico wheels slogging
over the homeland where the pitter
patter of the patria played on accordion
in the rain waiting for the flood of time
to wash a new century’s wars away.