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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DENA RASH GUZMAN is a Las Vegas born poet and editor living on a family farm in the Sandy River Gorge near Portland, Oregon. Founding editor of an online poetry and photography review, Unshod Quills and poetry editor for Shanghai, China's HAL Publishing, Dena is also a member of the Stanza Massive and a former poetry editor at the Nervous Breakdown. Her first book of poems, Life Cycle, was released in 2013 by Dog On A Chain Press. A chapbook, Woodland Savant, is forthcoming from that press in 2014. Dena has performed her work on stages across the world.

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