Skip to content →

Category: Elizabeth Arnold

Sound’s What Counts

in beautiful green Kerala

where the people sing like birds

—they make those

sounds I mean—

and the mantras there

like birdsong, no sense,

passed down generation to generation

as they’re

taught to the monks

with an impossible exactitude,

translation being in this case

transliteration

so as to get into the air

here and in other places all over India

and the world

words of the god, the actual

sounds it is believed

a living entity let out and in an

instant made the world.

from LifeFind more by Elizabeth Arnold at the library

Copyright © Elizabeth Arnold
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.

Civilization

The British journalist’s voice was spent as she said

(unenthusiastically, the interview now over), “Thanks,”

with the eager young insatiable American official

turning, then, to other matters.

But the voice

—a European’s, flat, well schooled in the world’s

hope-pulverizing particle storm’s gifts of disappointment—stayed,

the syllable’s slight elongation something on the order of

the querulous sendings of frail human wonderings out

into the void, as if the waning of her voice spoke

all of history’s ups and downs, a honeycomb’s packed maze of cells

whose lights shine through their tiny paper membranes

too thin not to be available to being torn,

light leaking from a world cracked open,

sky seen through the pavement I walk down.

from CivilizationFind more by Elizabeth Arnold at the library

Copyright © 2006 Elizabeth Arnold
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.

Encroachment

The male is the aggressor

even in a birdbath full of sparrows,

mounting, determining what, when, going after

all that shouldn’t be his

more than another’s.

The only way for a woman to be

truly free

is to live alone, liberation

just too high a hurtle

with the man there, history being

a pile of tree trunks on our donkey backs.

from Skeleton CoastFind more by Elizabeth Arnold at the library

Copyright © Elizabeth Arnold
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.

IRAQI BOY

What appear to be

peach-white, overwashed pajamas

in the washed-out newspaper photo

on one side droop

like a monk’s hood,

the upper half of that leg

raised with the other whole one

and the hands

they’re there!

and the less washed-out

pink balloon above them that they reach for or have

just let go

—the latter probably as one hand, palm up,

is wide of it,

two-thirds of a laughing mouth

visible, the wheelchair in this case,

its sparkle stark against

the flannel and plied living limbs within it,

a tool of fun. Such wisdom’s possible here only,

the ability to feel

glad to be alive

gone on the outside,

the “cloistered incarceration” of the ward

holding the boys

as if they were a group of monks.

Asked by a visitor

what it’s like to live secluded

most of the time,

mute and with forced labor,

a chronic lack of sleep for all the praying,

the Benedictine monk

asked back:

“Have you ever been in love?”

from EffacementFind more by Elizabeth Arnold at the library

Copyright © 2010 Elizabeth Arnold
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

css.php