Poems for April 23: Adrienne Rich and Jack Hirschman: Mortality

For the Dead by Adrienne Rich
I dreamed I called you on the telephone

Adrienne Rich

to say: Be kinder to yourself
but you were sick and would not answer

The waste of my love goes on this way
trying to save you from yourself

I have always wondered about the left-over
energy, the way water goes rushing down a hill
long after the rains have stopped

or the fire you want to go to bed from
but cannot leave, burning-down but not burnt-down
the red coals more extreme, more curious
in their flashing and dying
than you wish they were
sitting long after midnight

[Adrienne Rich (b. 1929). Born to a middle-class family, Rich was educated by her parents until she entered public school in the fourth grade. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Radcliffe College in 1951, the same year her first book of poems, A Change of World, appeared. That volume, chosen by W. H. Auden for the . . . read more poetry and biographical information here ]


STREETSCENE by Jack Hirschman
for Eugene Smith
She was on her knees
in a Tenderloin doorway
eating chunks of darkness
out of a small tin can.

As I passed, a photograph
of a Haitian man crawling
on a Port-au-Prince sidewalk
30 years ago came to mind.

There was no difference.

I’d like to hold the nape
of capital down to a plate
of dogfood on a street
with the mange.

I’d like to see capital
with lacerated knees crawling
from one reality to another
for a change.

From The Back of a Spoon (SF: manic d press, 1992)


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