with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is
From Migration: New & Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Copyright © 1988 by W. S. Merwin. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
I thought I could stop
time by taking apart
the clock. Minute hand. Hour hand.
Nothing can keep. Nothing
is kept. Only kept track of. I felt
accumulate like dead calves
in a thunderstorm
of the mind no longer a mind
but a page torn
from the dictionary with the definition of self
effaced. I couldn’t face it: the world moving
on as if nothing happened.
Everyone I knew got up. Got dressed.
Went to work. Went home.
There were parties. Ecstasy.
around each other. Bluntness. Blunts
rolled to keep
thought after thought
like wind across water—
coercing shapelessness into shape.
I put on my best face.
I was glamour. I was grammar.
Yet my best couldn’t best my beast.
I, too, had been taken apart.
I didn’t want to be
fixed. I wanted everything dismantled and useless
like me. Case. Wheel. Hands. Dial. Face.
Copyright © 2020 by Paul Tran. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 9, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.