Sunday, July 8, 2012

Monday Poems: "Pantoum" -- by Sasha Steensen

Perhaps the universe is an extinguished building
with blue banners strung along
and the forest, more like a commodity
bordering bushes and asphalt,

something else to string our blue banners on.
Never was restoration swifter:
the leafless trees, the asphalt
less splintered and more splendid.

Never was restoration swifter
with its mightier solutions,
less splintered and more splendid
snipers, dynamiters, colorful bombs.

We please ourselves with mightier solutions,
picnics under blue spruces
snipers, dynamiters, colorful bombs
the guardians of what we might call “home rights.”

At picnics, under blue spruces
we clamor after the news
and its employees, the guardians of “home rights”
“the media” mustering “one mind.”

It’s news,
the decision to nobly save rather than meanly lose
some pretense of mustering “one mind”
secures its truth.

The decision to nobly save rather than meanly lose
our flag
secures its truth
as a squirrel secures its nuts by hiding them in the ground.

Our flag—
a souvenir of having been here before
a squirrel’s nuts, deep in the ground.
But travel, travail, and The Method’s mistakes

all souvenirs of having been here before,
haunt us and taunt us and call us names.
But travail, travel, and Method’s mistakes
mark a different season, nuts rotting, bulbs blooming.

Each season haunts us and taunts us and calls us names
until finally the universe is an extinguished building,
a different season, nuts rotting, bulbs blooming
and the forest, a commodity.

*     *     *     *     *
Sasha Steensen is the author of several collections of poetry, including the forthcoming House of Deer (2013), A Magic Book (2004), which won the Alberta DuPont Bonsal Prize, and The Method (2008), in which the above poem appears. 

Steenson grew up in Las Vegas and is now a professor at Colorado State University, where she is also co-editor of Bonfire Press.

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