Published on Academy of American Poets (

Children Listen

                It turns out however that I was deeply
Mistaken about the end of the world
        	The body in flames will not be the body
In flames but just a house fire ignored
        	The black sails of that solitary burning
Boat rubbing along the legs of lovers
        	Flung into a Roman sky by a carousel
The lovers too sick in their love
        	To notice a man drenched in fire on a porch
Or a child aflame mistaken for a dog
        	Mistaken for a child running to tell of a bomb
That did not knock before it entered
        	In Gaza with its glad tidings of abundant joy  	
In Kazimierz a god is weeping
        	In a window one golden hand raised
Above his head as if he’s slipped
        	On the slick rag of the future our human
Kindnesses unremarkable as the flies
        	Rubbing their legs together while standing
On a slice of cantaloupe Children
        	You were never meant to be human
You must be the grass
        	You must grow wildly over the graves


Copyright © 2018 by Roger Reeves. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 19, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Stevie Wonder. Czesław Miłosz. Stanisław Wyspiański. Solmaz Sharif. Palestine. Kazimierz. Langston Hughes. Wisława Szymborska. Kraków. The poem is holding many conversations at once. Hopefully, one of them is with you. I wrote this poem for the children that have yet to be born, which is what I believe all writing is for—the future, both near and far.”
—Roger Reeves


Roger Reeves

Roger Reeves's first book, King Me, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2013 and was awarded the 2014 Larry Levis Reading Prize and a John C. Zacharis First Book Award.

Date Published: 2018-06-19

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