Without the Pelt of a Lion


  Rage: Sing, Goddess, of the on top of love
And the president’s chronic angers, his mouth, a burning
Bird of prey, a flood of flames, and nowhere not touched;
Nowhere, the peace he makes of the world with war,
Luxury, club, spear; the bodies of refugees
He leaves in the desert to rot as feasts for the hawk
And the hooked-tooth of the wild boars running
From one empire to another, their hunger
The engine of their political will and bewilderment.
It is the wild that makes the rose redundant.
Nettle, thorn, stone, beaver dead in the ravine, Rise.
And approach us with the harmony of death,
Which is the direction all wounds close.
Between the on top of love and the green stem
The body makes of itself on a bed after,
The head of the rose scattered between hill, dale,
Pillow, star, mouth, sing, Beyoncé, of the burning
Heaven, the hurricanes and the little graves
That rise after, and the big graves, and the foxes
And the broken treaties with the bee, the deer,
The dense wood, the Kurds, the rebels, and even the storm,
Sing of men and women without the pelt of a lion
Draped over their necks, walking out of a flood
With their young or old sitting upon their shoulders,
Their household gods and the bones of the dead
Clutched in their laps, the flood water in their laps,
The water siring what next to lose, siring the beginning
Of loss. Begin with—and where are my notes of the recent
Disasters—the ministers and priests in the statehouse,
Their hands stretched out toward the president
Blessing the minor miracles of greater destruction—
The banning of exiles and the hungry and anyone
Who has had to leave their living for dead,
Anyone who has to give their young to the swelling
Hurricane, the desert, the hawk, the dogs;
Who knew the human was a breed of grief?

Roger Reeves is an associate professor of poetry and 2015 Whiting Award winner whose poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, The Nation, The Believer, Ploughshares, and elsewhere.

You Might Also Enjoy

Love Poem

Nathan McClain

The tennis match was still on
and while some watched, some sat around
and shucked oysters, cut them from their shells,. . .


Bailout Haiku

Alicia Ostriker

The banks were betting
on derivatives and when
everything collapsed our taxes paid to
bail them out without any. . .


Further Reading

Heads Up: We recently updated our privacy policy to clarify how and why we collect personal data. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand this policy.