(from Tear Opera)

It is 1948, always 1948. I was five. I’ll tell
only what I know I know. For example:

a pain somewhere beneath my ribs when I cast back
into the river of I remember. Shiver of tank blast

elsewhere near the town center, & my father there
now in the entryway, now in the bathroom. I never

saw / his hair white & full of pebbles / he combed
his hair until he combed out the white & the stones.

His blue suit chalked white, his silk tie soaked red.
I wanted to know, crying why, he was tremor & read

the latest leaflet warning men to gather downtown
& yesterday / promising to respect the rights of everyone /

to keep official records intact & therefore available
for proper perusal—we know now / for final disposal.


Philip Metres is the author and translator of a number of books and chapbooks, including Sand Opera (forthcoming Alice James 2015), I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky (forthcoming 2014), Compleat Catalogue of Comedic Novelties: Poetic Texts of Lev Rubinstein (Ugly Duckling Presse forthcoming 2014), A Concordance of Leaves (Diode 2013), abu ghraib arias (Flying Guillotine 2011), To See the Earth (Cleveland State 2008), and Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront since 1941 (University of Iowa 2007). His work has appeared in Best American Poetry, numerous journals and anthologies, and has garnered two NEA fellowships, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, five Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Beatrice Hawley Award (for the forthcoming Sand Opera), two Arab American Book Awards, the Cleveland Arts Prize, the Anne Halley Prize, and a Russian Institute of Translation grant. He is a 2014 Creative Workforce Fellow. The Creative Workforce Fellowship is a program of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, supported by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. He is professor of English at John Carroll University in Cleveland.


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  1. Pingback: Issue Nine, October 2014 | Matter

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