The mind doesn’t do what we want it to do.
Mine plays speed Scrabble; it sifts pages and pages
of pictures of shoes. Palmyra goodbye. Temple of Bel not a pun
but a ruin. A ruined ruin, a ruin sent to oblivion
on purpose. Who cares if I fold up at my desk
a heap of angry sorrow. Not any candidate,
no ambassador. Sign a petition? Email some senators?
I make nothing happen. I make
nothing but orders, seven-letter words, coffee
with the hard water from the oleander-pierced pipes
with their roaches and mud. A temple
stood for twenty centuries and today the New York Times
shows us its new life as dust. Baal is how they spell it.
A neat aerial square of nothing now. The world wants
what from us in reply to the hatred of the mind?
I should say “soul,” I know, or “history” or “culture”
but probably only the mind can thwart destructions.
In America, the mind is also hated,
by whosoever sells us shoes and phones. We are subtle
here, give lots of money to the arts.
Copyright © 2018 Sally Ball. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.