What Can Poetry Do
by Matthew Zapruder
In Africa people are angry.
They are climbing embassy walls
and burning whatever is there.
Each time I click on some words
and read what we call news
I feel certain some people
while I was reading have died.
I know I am here merely reading.
I just sit in my room and worry.
As always I can do nothing.
So I close all the portals and go
deep in my mind to discover
something about Tunisia.
Tunisia of desert silence
broken by occasional battles
where a man set himself on fire
then revolution then elections.
Tunisia whose cosmopolitan
capital city Carthage
the Romans completely destroyed.
Tunisia where they filmed
the familiar home planet scenes
of the space movie we all stood in line
a million years ago to see.
I don’t know anything else.
Now I remember something
I once read about the forests
people are carefully growing
far from the capital city.
The trees are eating the poison
probably much too slowly.
But still they take the particles
and even if we don’t deserve it
our air is a little clearer.
It’s like the painting I saw
of a witch in the forest
her hair in a black column rising
like smoke from a burning structure.
She was dragging three or four ropes
the color of umbilical blood.
She was guarded by her wolf familiar.
At first she terrified me.
Then I saw she was causing
certain spells to protect
far away new mothers
whose children must in the middle
of great violence be born.
The men surround the embassy.
It will never be clear who sent them.
For a moment I feel ashamed.
I breathe the clear terrible air.
The fourth collection from the celebrated American poet and editor, Matthew Zapruder.
Matthew Zapruder’s poems begin in the faint inkling, in the bloom of thought, and then unfold into wide-reaching meditations on what it means to live in the contemporary moment, among plastic, statistics, and diet soda. Written in a direct, conversational style, the poems in Sun Bear display full-force why Zapruder is one of the most popular poets in America.