Sunday, September 4, 2011

The World That Lives Just On The News

I just now found this poem I wrote nearly 10 years ago to the day. I had just finished my internship in Seattle (my first foray into the big wide beautifully ugly world) and was taking a poetry class at the University of Nebraska. I only have one copy and I keep losing it, so the fact that I just found it right now excites me greatly. It is the original hard copy I turned in to the professor and has all his notes and commentary, which even today is flattering. The prof also told me to submit it for publication. I never did. Not really sure why.  I'm putting it here so that there is less pressure to not lose the only copy I have, though I need to make a conscious effort to keep this one because it's filled from top to bottom with the professor's comments. The poem is in the form of Sestina, which is comprised of 39 lines with the same words ending the lines in each stanza in varying order. It was my first work outside of high school poetry. I was 19 years old, with fresh eyes and a yearning to save the world.
Here's the poem:

Sadness each night on the five o'clock news
Another innocent victim lies cold
Death and destruction, sickness and pain
Why does the world scream? Anger loves fear
Fear loves anger, each feeds on each other in
a cycle of pain that, my God, I wish someday would

end. A beaten mother covers her bruises. She would
leave if the fear he would kill her would leave. New
bruises every morning. As she drives into
work, she tries to find an excuse. Her child, cold
and hungry, cries in the backseat. Life for them is fear.
As she looks out the window, more pain

is all that she sees. For the man on the corner, pain
is all he knows. A bench of wood
for a bed, his eyes are so vacant they show no fear
No emotion at all. A crumpled jacket that's far from new
is all he has for warmth...and a pillow. Cold
eats away at his frail bones as he stares into

nothing. As the woman drives further into
the city, she tries to block out the pain
while more heartache stands out in the cold.
The foreign man walking out on the sidewalk would
weep if there were any tears left to cry. His new
baby boy and his wife have passed on. His nation's fear

of change has killed them. Most are afraid,
so they hide their beliefs, so they are not forced into
exile...or death. The man has escaped to a new
Promised Land, but not without paying the price. His pain
will live on with each mother and child he would
see on the street, until his own body is cold.

Next to the man stands a woman who's cold.
For not many clothes she has on. Her greatest fear
is her health that is fading, as the disease would
soon take her life. Her time on the streets got her into
a mess, where there was only one way to survive. Pain
had to be ignored, as each new night brought in someone new.

This world lives on the news and it seems very cold
Yet we turn our backs on the pain and the fear
and pretend it's not the world we live in...or ever would.

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