Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fred Pollack- Two Poems


A spook regretted
that NCOs and privates took the heat
for Abu Ghraib.  He had worked with them and liked them –
easy to talk to once you gain their trust;
so grateful for the least sign of respect.
“Recycled rednecks,” sure,
but in the eyes of history aren’t we all?
He too liked sports, hunting,
large awkward families, church;
contrary to Marxism
(he was old enough to have learned all that)
such things are the roots of society, not its stench.

He felt committed enough to re-up
(himself unphotographed, unimplicated)
and was rewarded with real subjects –
people who had actually done something –
and his own translator, an older local
who sweated through long sessions in a ski-mask.
“You can take that off,” said the spook
one afternoon.  The translator
did so, avoiding the eye
of the prisoner across the table.
They had reached the stage of cigarettes and water.
The prisoner clutched a cup in his good hand
but ignored the smokes.  The spook lit up
(he never did, at home),
admiring, not for the first time, the native hair;
I’d kill for the hair, he thought.
This one had given all he had to give –
what he would give – and the spook had time
to waste.  “You guys are perfect,” he said.
“No one will ever believe what you believe.
However annoyed people get –
I mean real people, us –
at all the problems in their lives,
you’ll always be worse, and you’ll always be around.
Therefore I’ll always have a job,
and so will everyone, however many
buildings of ours you knock down, or even nuclear plants.
Our job will be to fuck you up.”  And, seeing
the translator struggle – with the concepts,
and with the continual praying and cursing of
the prisoner – he said, “Don’t bother.”

The Humiliation of the Bully

If you get him immediately after he has
robbed the lunch money, grabbed the
new tits of the shy girl, dropped
the homework or head of a nerd down a
toilet, or bombed the recalcitrant store
or town, you'll have no effect –
the past is instantly dead to him. What at
least momentarily lives is the blare of
otherwise futile moralizing, the fist or
threat, greater force – all
(unfair (because there is no past), to
be gotten through by any means
including tears, then mocked. So, really
to get him, you must appear
in the mysterious joyful moment
he senses weakness, that slack string
in another belly resonating with
the tautness in his: when the essential
humor of things declares itself and
invites him. And you, impossible hall-
monitor, principal who didn't
secretly admire him, must be a
darkness beyond the imagining of
the good; and larger than he, pervading,
paralyzing action in him, and force, even
breath. As if the point of a joke could be
extracted and maintained while
another joke, more saturnine and
cutting, were built around it, he being the point.

From the nominal space between
his rage and your insensible,
implacable embrace, I will
emerge (and you're discharged, with
thanks), a profounder darkness like
a gas; for whom the humiliation of
the bully long since became, among
all possible and possibly wiser
principles, my principle.
That he in all his iterations may
lie ornamentally along
the corridors of the palace,
cringing at words and silence,
existing only to cringe.

Author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press.  Has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, etc.  Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire  Review, Mudlark, Dead Snakes, etc.  Recent Web publications in Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Camel Saloon, Kalkion, Gap Toothed Madness. Adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University.

No comments:

Post a Comment