04 February 2009

Featured Poets: Kathleen Rooney and Elisa Gabbert

“Life's too short to mourn the dead.”
—Paul Verlaine
Tonight, I made myself feel a little
something to acknowledge the occasion:
a fistful of dry grass from the hillside
is a weird memento, but alas
memory doesn’t take requests. Charcoal
means to turn to coal. As a hiding place
a grave is not the worst. As the first to
die, you seem somehow the best of us, the
fastest. Moths in the porch light, nocturnal
animal cries. I made myself afraid.

“Subjects of the Roman Empire had an average life expectancy of twenty-eight years.”
–Atul Gawande
If I lived there/then, I'd be dead by now.
The sterile calm, the central heating—how
would I feel any outrage? The light goes
subjective. To what am I subject, if
there is no empire? The light goes fleeting.
I don’t know what Americana means
to Europeans, where the past is a
cliché. My adaptive mechanism
to middle age is acting older than
the light. The middle of what? Of the light.

“Nothing is going to happen in this book.”
—Annie Dillard
Given the times, it was slightly austere.
“I thought we won the war,” I said, & then
somebody rolled the year-end slide show. Here
a post-apocalyptic wasteland, there
a noble endeavor ending in tears.
I've never been inspired by inspiring
passages of literature or quaint
old red barns, so it's a fortunate thing
that the barn full of literature burned
to the ground & culture can start over.

©2009 Kathleen Rooney and Elisa Gabbert