Dena Rash Guzman:
By Dena Rash Guzman
The TNB Self-Interview
September 22, 2013
After W.S. Merwin’s “Some Last Questions”
What is the poem
A distillation of anything
What is anything
Anything is a story
What are the stories
The stories are life cycles
No what are the stories
A good story takes men, a lot of them at once.
Sailors upended. Frenzy in a sinking boat.
Women and children first,
as a gentle captain taps softly for help.
The crew, dear men, slipping under water
in striped shirts, or waiters crying out for their mothers
as the cold drinks them to the bottom.
The salty edge disproves Jesus,
silences the ship’s horn.
How do you spell the sound a ship’s horn makes?
There is no word for that,
for women and children alone at sea,
the tyrannical hag taking an aside
because of a book she read.
That whale must be here somewhere. Harkening,
she raises her oar, and drowns hysterical.
What is the best poem
“A Note Passed to Superman” by Lucille Clifton
(you can trust me/there is no planet stranger/than the one I’m from)
What is your motto
“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.” Margaret Atwood, the Handmaid’s Tale
No what is your motto
Name, rank, serial number
What is the joy
The joy is knowing I survived long enough to ask myself these questions
Who are the compatriots
They are those who see a revolution in the beautiful democracy of hearing and being heard, who understand and have empathy for the fact that for some people, writing is the native language, and celebrate the ease with which that writing might be shared. The compatriots are those who believe the best work will speak for itself, and are not threatened by freedom.
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