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An international online magazine that publishes Surrealist poetry in English.
The Just Judges
I'm given to understand
I might jump the queue
to recognition if I protest
Israeli settlements on the Left Bank.
(Mishearing the phrase thus, I form
an alarming but piquant vision of Paris.)
I'd have to sign something, boycott something.
Otherwise I could write an article
saying how inspired
I am by the power and authenticity
of hip-hop. "Do they really want that?"
I ask. "Wouldn't my approval
make it seem less ... transgressive?"
advising me, a trans one could have a beer with,
shrugs over her beer
and gives me to understand
that neither these, nor gays nor feminists
(she ignores my protestations of support)
are the problem. Nor even my unfashionably
lucid, Horatian style.
"You don't belong. There could be a poet
rotting in an SRO
like Wieners, or in a nuthouse like Clare,
and he'd belong more than you."
She recognizes each, although
they're already beyond range
of her progressive lenses,
halfway to the cars, the day
as nice as one remembered
that ended in a war.
The extortionist resembles
a grind; his features
can sharpen in a moment. The queen bee,
a blond flame, would be obvious anywhere;
she has some use for the depressive
beside her, affecting tough.
The Facebook target keeps formation, because
by now it doesn't matter where she walks.
Likewise the boy who knows he will buy them all,
and the handsomer one they buy from.
Of course the counselor thinks none of this.
It's a first-rate school. They reach their cars;
gold, pink, pale scarves, torn tights and blue-jeans scatter.
I'm old, the counselor thinks, I'm the disaster.
Gradually you no longer signal.
Nothing less than an aircraft carrier
would do, and the only one that appears
is that laughable Russian one,
their only one, which Putin deployed to Syria –
how did it get out here?
Yet even if the whole Sixth Fleet
and a Chinese missile cruiser
sailed by, you wouldn't wave. The giant
subs of the corporations are more enticing,
but they don't show themselves.
Each morning the sun claps
its helmet on you, corrects and molds its pupil.
Your companions now are heroes, ancient broadcasts:
Rios Montt, who assured Guatemalans
that their skin was as blue as their flag, the fallen
visionary Nixon, stern father Duterte, Trump the evangel.
Love is the dark companion of the sun.
Sex is the fantasy that (quite gently,
given the circumstances) usurped memory.
You have learned and will learn. Like a saint,
you will eat and drink only learning.
Among the rocks, ranks of stones
that your blood has blessed are your soldiers.
Your last regret is that no rags remain
to give them flags; you have resolved upon
the Iguana beats the Eagle, Bear, and Dragon!
Frederick Pollack is originally from Chicago, now based in Washington D.C. where he is adjunct professor of creative writing at George Washington University. He has published three collections, the latest being A Poverty of Words (Pacific Press, 2015). His new collection, Landscape with Mutant, is due from Smokestack Books in 2018.