Thursday, June 30, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by rob mclennan

Most of the risks I take are voluntary
but I remember disasters I lived through
that still can't be understood.
—Ken Belford

They will take my island.
Damn the shore. See the boats.

Stars animate the morning with their bird-song
We are craving but stitches pull.

Small sloughs among horizon births.
Strange to a man, encounter

half-tobacco and comparative suburbs.
See the shore, damn the boats.

Hardscrabble lake. A terrible wonderment.
Witness the pleasures of darkness,

a sound of belief. Let measures come,
as they may. They will take my island. The war

hasn't even begun.

Dear Prime Minister: I fear
for my safety. Two inanimate, rearranged, lines.

The people acted cruel, and sweet.
See the boats. Damn the shore. Send in

armed forces, the coast guard. The Air Force
drawn belly-thin; glows red,

like a robin. Clear the paths, damn the boats.
I need you to listen. I want you to love me.

Colours are no boundary. Blue trades blue
and merges, black. Sky to line to line to water.

Damn the boats. My clothes are torn. Seagulls
pick at the distances.

Napoleon knew to keep to his castles,
an object in reverse. Everything you say

is possible. The clipper ships. Damn the boats.

Damn the boats. Tell me again, you saw.
The downside slogan, in these most

mundane of moments, matters. They
will take my island. I can see every single thing

in the whole of creation, standing. Here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Rosanne Carrara

for landlocked, a limitless expansion –
this brace of camouflage rigged up
as my own sterling contribution
to the national effort – the leaf-blood,
fabric revisos of a camp along the front –
I’ll take especial credit for the deities
hovering along the upper corners
of each screen – the squat, god’s-honest
likeness of a Moai, moss-headed, concrete.
He gets his rise grinning over the tall
fires, the scorched whole loaves of birds’
nests, all the abandoned knitting. And,
relishing the nearest internal struggle –
the long-expected row between a rampant
lion and a trinity of left hooks, supported,
well enough, respectively, by the only
obedient muscle in a person’s body, the tip
of an icicle, or a sleuth of leaden pyramids
couched between wrist and elbow – this idol,
he’ll say the lion’s casual, knows enough
to know they would have killed him
by now if they weren’t just practicing.

Then, the left-hand trace of that other god.
He’s mean, no, economical, about his face,
cocking and re-cocking his bird mask
to get it low enough to set some formal
distance between himself and any of our
earthy disappointments, as if the postponement
of hope, epitomized by a sudden flare-up
in one of the abandoned tents, was not
the source of jubilation he had longed for
all along. Still, still, he finds the human
predicament alluring. The long waltz-shadow
of the critic, sailing in a helmet and feathers,
swilling from a horn, swearing to his partner,
make the best of my farewells – although, to think
of it, his shadow never makes a faithful exit.
Or the critic, himself, squatting, clement
in the center of things, bent over his weather
map or the flag of no country he’s ever known –
Armenia, maybe – spinning a piece of chalk
so swiftly in his hand it blurs into a shield.
This god’s at least a little bit concerned. ’Suppose
he thinks this might just be the chalk I gave
to him, the critic, in my moment of triumph,
when I told him to produce some kind of master-
piece himself, urging him to work fast, too,
if he would be so kind – I’d need it back sooner
or later, so as to mount the box I took to standing
on and scratch a similarly strained goodbye
my loveds on its wooden sides, before I kicked
the box from under all of us, that is, and died. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Mathew Henderson

You find an island in the way the wrench grips you back,
the heft in your hand like a man reaching up and out
from the current and finding only you, who are caught
in a current of your own. There are thirty of you here,
more away, all pretending you’ve found something solid
in the sexless hips beneath your boots, something
you might leap from. In the morning, sixty slow feet
fall into coveralls with the patience of men who’ve guessed,
already, the rain and dirt and burn of all the coming years.

Your lungs catch the barb of something unbreathable
in the air and every man on lease stops to watch his hands,
to test the ground with his feet: leaning back and forth,
the brim of his hardhat cutting a crescent from the world.
They say some of you will die this winter. They are always
saying things like that. Those who sleep through the night,
who have been the meagre villains of every story you’ve
ever been told. They who are always coming, they who rise up
like waves behind us. They who take our islands, in the end.