Gente que avanza se puede matar / pero los pensamientos quedarán
— León Gieco
We pull up a stool at the bar & toast the spirits,
a plea for guidance. Hoping we write something
that hasn’t already been said, something
that shakes the ear—we’re haunted by words.
Auden’s circle bang their pulpit while Yeats
waves a flag that won’t stand for patriotism.
Neruda whispers Quiero ver la sed adentro de las
sílabas; Dylan Thomas orders shots all around.
Tipsy on stanzas, Ezra Pound leaves me
stranded in a station of the metro
without money for tickets—I hitchhike home.
(Sweet talk, the economy of language.)
Beneath a rusted-out train car in St. Louis,
T.S. Eliot calls to me with photographs
of my grandfather’s faith & human kindness.
I confess just enough to convince a crowd
that everything I say is true—like Kinnell
& Glück, I’ll share just enough
to make sweet love to readers.
Sing a song of my body like Maya
(phenomenal woman, that’s me)
or Clifton—praising my hips, clavicle, belly
& knees. The juicy flesh where Ginsberg
feeds, yacketayakking screaming vomiting
at open mic orgies. I swing with Beats,
whispering facts & memories, with Black
Arts poets & new formalists who lay down
four-beat lines in sick rhymes,
hoping to offend like Eminem, willing
poems to crawl beneath silver-scaled skin
& skate their way through veins, one part
scalpel to cut away what’s dead &
one part meds to take away the pain.
Politicians, philosophers, priests
have always punished the poets—kicked
them out of country, put them in prison.
Where do Aron Atabek’s words live?
How now will Liu Xia write? Forgive us,
Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami,
Enoh Meyomesse, Susana Chávez Castillo.
If you’re a poet, take note. You can write
what you know, you can tell the truth.
The world will come for your words—
then they’ll come for you.
Marissa Glover teaches and writes in Florida, where she is co-editor of Orange Blossom Review and a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. Marissa’s work appears in Rust + Moth, Mothers Always Write, Okay Donkey, Whale Road Review, and other journals. Her debut poetry collection, Let Go of the Hands You Hold, is forthcoming from Mercer University Press in 2021. Follow Marissa on Twitter @_MarissaGlover_