Foreclosing on That Peril

Julie Carr

I’ll keep explaining—because maybe you still don’t get it
Those children in California (substitute any state), dead from gunfire—
Let me begin again in a little roof garden with my friend
A perverse reader, he listens to my stories as if they were TV
I mean he mocks me lovingly on the roof and at the library book sale
My friend is not a banker but a prison activist
He used to be a philosopher, but like many philosophers, he’s taken a turn
that should be easy to understand
The trajectory from philosopher to activist is like the curve of a single brushstroke across a large canvas
Artists in the fifties paid attention to that
I hate flat language like this, but I’m pretty flat
sometimes. You have to be your own dictator
and the law is, hate yourself if you have to, but don’t stop doing the thing you said you were going to do
As I tell my daughters often
Emotion is a site of unraveling (JB)
I admit, gripping my T-shirt
I wish I were writing in prose an unfolding intensity that shocks history professors and prison activists equally
Later, in the grass, we’ll practice gymnastics and that way contribute our sweat
to Our Ephemeral City

More by Julie Carr

House/Boat

So we shoveled it. Climbed over it. When a boy's loved 
he is loved. We kissed him at the countdown

then we went to bed. 
Then I woke and on the screen 

an executioner 
whose wife for him 

was worried. Both on and off the screen

there was still a lot of snow. I went out and stuck my hand in it, 
felt around for a handle. None.

So I picked myself up and walked to the bank. Does it seem 
I am alone? No, not alone. The wind was a friend. Dying and down. 

I bent over,

I listened to the flow. Home, yes, but leaving. Home, sure, fine, but, 
where's the bathroom? Where's the light? Anyway, 

the soft swell said, lisping its S’s, Anyway, 
if you're at home here, you're a guest.  So I bowed. I said 

I'm sorry if I bore you. Broad, 
the river belled in a thud of sun. 

I climbed aboard, I rowed. A border flew open like a cough. 
I leaned back to balance 

my heavy brown oars as they dipped
to green and red furrows of light between water mounds. 

My boat rocked, steady, un-steady. 
Was I welcomed? It seemed I was as I gripped 

and privately beheld. 

The night soon lost its head. I said,
I'm here. Pulling up now,

parking, looking 
for something to eat, to redeem. 

The wind shook the seedpod but the seedpod 
wasn't moved. 

And though I thought I'd done the damage I was born for, 

there was still so much to step through, 
so much to mar.

Think Tank [excerpts]

*



First: The blinding of the citizens

Second: The common plague of worms

(like lute strings, they must be plucked and the wounds spread with fresh butter)

Then: 


This amorousness



*



Old woman cried and was fed her peas—

a worm in mud finding its way around my roots—

or deeply asleep and thus resistant to being read as a morally triumphant being,

she buries her mirror

The sermon says, "there is no you, so no way for you to fail or fall"

In Normandy we bought fish and cake

and the children rode the carousel

These are the dreams we return to:

bread in the sun, oil in the water 

glass in the foot

Blood modifies blood



*



"Let me be my own fool," sitting on the newspaper 

perchance in love with an embryonic heart

prepared to beat 2.5 billion times, and that's all



*



Nothing betray us


But I love the moment when the boy looks down at a homeless man's shoe 

and imagines traveling to the center of the earth, hanging on the shoelace like a rope

A fourteen-line poem on Adoration


        1. It does not take much

        2. Half an hour here, half an hour there

        3. It’s not a “presence” I adore

        4. The erotically swollen moon

        5. Let me go, friends, companions

        6. The soldier watches his kid in a play

        7. He seems nothing less or more than “foreigner”

        8. Grass. Dirt.

        9. The bottle broke and all the women gathered shards

        10. The effect was of inflation

        11. There was only one alive moment in the day

        12. Either I loved myself or I loved you

        13. Just like a mother to say that

        14. “Do you become very much?” she wrote

Related Poems

We never know how high we are (1176)

We never know how high we are
  Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
  Our statures touch the skies—

The Heroism we recite
  Would be a daily thing,
Did not ourselves the Cubits warp
  For fear to be a King—