Friday, May 16, 2008

Poem by Ian Engelberger

so i put on a side as i walked out
towards the city lights
hoping for something to shout

sometimes your silence
and a walk after sleep
are enough to convince me
though my thoughts fade
that we’re all broken
because we were made

when i’m quiet i can hear my fear
like a river that screams as it rushes
a room full of voices raised at once
audible as it crushes
composed of words i can’t understand

and when i’m asleep my human dreams are distraught by nature
my mind reels to find
images and feelings by morning i rarely remember
broken boys dry eyes agape at televisions telling the story of love
and those holy days in mid december

i sat on a hill and watched them
all brought to a cliff and made to jump off
with that drunk old supermarket cough
their deaths they couldn’t embrace
unmedicated fear that i could taste
in their voices as they leapt from their palimpsest lives undone
those dull screams
like bullets shot at the sun

when i talk i feel their weight
words lost as i walk after them
the ugly notion that i’m too late


people mistake me for myself
as i float and refuse
why should i seek that kinetic abrasion -
my own realisation?

anyone’s realisation in this long country
anyone’s truth found on these streetcorners of elusive happiness

i’d rather descend instead into the sun and
with melting eyes fail to see
the flames
without ears to hear
and with melted hands i wouldn’t understand

and people mistake you for myself
moving in my head as someone else
can’t you look learned?
point everywhere and lead nowhere

followed giant fingers pointed in the sky
with clenched fists full of crumpled paper
laid down staring after potential airplanes
never to be realised in the rhythmic pursuit of my seconds

and my flutter of concerns before sleep
unsettled minds and poisoned heads
their america found dead
our bloodsport is six o’clock
channel five news

young men left lame
fighting wars left undeclared
old men’s money better off fared

where’s the pill that closes my eyes
to all this blindness i suffer?
how many weeks of two pills a day
before an american can
without seeing hate
look out their window
and find nothing worth buying

and how do i make the safe dollar?

and how many of those will take my eyes off the smoke
on the horizon?

that black bleak column
that means nothing to me nor should it

that from the side of my eye
suggests that maybe old men bought me

and old men sold me

[Congratulations to Ian Engelberger, who has just won the Gunnery's poetry contest, judged by Valzhyna Mort, with this poem. Ian is a frequent contributor to Green Hill and I think he has a bit of Dustin Hoffman in All the Presidents' Men in him. Honorable mention went to poets Sara Silverman, Kirsten Bouthiller, and Jon Hartmann, whose work is known here already and/or whose work will appear in this spot in the near future.]

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