Remix with a Few Lines from Keats
My throat is dry [ ] a drowsy numbness pains [ ] my sense as though [ ] obscured by smoke [ ] I drive on roads dividing patchwork farmland, fences [ ] wide-eyed llamas [ ] perpetual surprise [ ] after a dream, I sip water in the dark [ ] I don’t want to sleep [ ] my husband breathing deeply [ ] my children twisting in their beds [ ] smoke rising from the fields [ ] end of harvest razing [ ] I lift the rock, find a family of woodlice [ ] curled away from me [ ] sleeping or pretending to sleep [ ] hemlock lacing the road’s shoulders [ ] my too-dry eyes [ ] the tender babies are paler [ ] than their parents, little ghosts [ ] rolled in on themselves, my children are sleeping [ ] when I lift the blanket [ ] when, after a dream, I smoke in the dark [ ] no bird singing [ ] nothing to ode [ ] the sharp scent of pine, wet soil, beast musk, rain [ ] the dull opiate of things [ ] what will outlive us [ ] I turn on the screen [ ] a panel of men in a void, screaming [ ] cornflowers curling into rust [ ] I breathe in smoke [ ] fists curled shut [ ] the green of marijuana fields [ ] the pungent scent of [ ] bodies curled in sleep [ ] as if sleep were a cure [ ] one minute past, and Lethe-wards [ ] hear that crackling? [ ] pine cones dropping like heavy flames [ ] glaciers splitting [ ] howling ghosts [ ] what earth will be left for [ ] my children cry out in their sleep [ ] dark room filling with the smoke I exhale [ ] hills roiling [ ] the screaming stays while the screen goes dark [ ] I can’t see it disappearing [ ] to thy high requiem [ ] my throat is dry [ ] do I wake or sleep? [ ] I don’t want to wake
Copyright © 2020 by Danielle Cadena Deulen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 4, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“I wrote this poem after another night of waking up in a panic and instinctively checking on my sleeping children. I’d been reading articles about the climate crisis, considering the difficulty of holding both hope and anxiety for the future of this planet—emotions necessary to motivate an active response instead of slipping into a numb resignation. This poem is an attempt to dramatize the mind of a single speaker who leaps between hope, anxiety, and the desire to numb—the closed, empty brackets meant to indicate the spaces in thought that can’t be articulated. The poem includes ‘remixed’ phrases from John Keats’s ‘Ode to a Nightingale,’ a poem in which the speaker longs to transport himself away from mortal suffering and admits he has been ‘half in love’ with the idea of dying as a form of escape. The final line of this poem is meant to hold two contradictory ideas: ‘wake’ meaning both to awaken to our present difficulties and to bear witness to death, which is what will inevitably happen if we don’t awaken.”
—Danielle Cadena Deulen
Danielle Cadena Deulen
Danielle Cadena Deulen is the author of a memoir and two poetry collections, most recently Our Emotions Get Carried Away Beyond Us (Barrow Street Press, 2015). She is an associate professor at Willamette University and hosts the podcast Lit from the Basement. She lives in Salem, Oregon.
Date Published: 2020-03-04
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/remix-few-lines-keats