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Category archive for: Rick Barot

Song

I want to be the governor of Alaska. Because the season

is turning, because the trees are becoming an announcement,

their leaves with the future already in them, the self-arson

of the red leaves, the yellow leaves like superlative

lemons, I want to be the governor of Alaska. Because

I’m tired of the news, the newspapers, the public radio

experts, and my own sad inability to sit quietly in my room,

which Pascal declares is the problem with people, I want

to be the governor of Alaska. Because from the air base

and army base outside my town, airplanes as gray as whales

and as big as dreams keep flying over our houses,

shrieking like oversized skateboards on city sidewalks.

Because of arsenic in the rain, because of arsenic sleeping

inside the ground, and the weather like a cold war always

coming down from Canada and Russia, I want to be

the governor of Alaska. Because I’m always hearing speech

from the kettles and the door-knobs, those pure products

of America, their soft words always scurrying, things

bothered by eyes and light. Because I have been reading

the letters of Van Gogh, the part where he says, “Instead of

painting the ordinary wall of the mean room, I paint

infinity.” Because when he died the world went dark by half,

and when you went away this morning the other half went

dark, I want to be the governor of Alaska. Because of all

the Filipinos canning tuna in Alaska, because of the

mail-order brides ordered by the lonely men of Alaska,

I want to be the governor of Alaska. Because of the pipeline

on the state’s chest like a bypass scar, because of the streams

and flowers of the tundra, alive so briefly they are

like the gift of an election blossoming every four years,

I want to be the governor of Alaska. Because of the price

of gas, because of all the rosaries I prayed in my childhood,

I want to be the governor of Alaska. Because even then,

in childhood, I knew it was doubt that made people small,

when I was dared to eat a caterpillar, I did. It wasn’t shooting

moose, but still it made me want to be the governor of Alaska.

from Poetry Northwest 05.1 Spring & Summer 2010More by Rick Barot from the library

Copyright © Rick Barot
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

A Poem is a Letter Opener

and it is the letter that is answered

or not answered, held first by the uncle

who sorted it on his graveyard shift

in the postal service warehouse,

after which it became the postman

going from box to box, each box

a particular face like a dog’s, the dog

that is also a poem, its eyes dark

like the water in a well, its fur smelling

like grass that is also a poem, green

and exclamatory in spring, later

turning the color of rubber-bands,

which are also poems, holding

together the pencils, the tip-money,

the small stone in the sling-shot right

before it takes flight, the stone that

looks like a tiny skull, granite like death,

a piece of the night left in the middle

of the day, which is also a poem,

starting with its whisper campaign

of morning light, the light touching

the clean sidewalk, the light touching

the sign in the window that says

“No Crying Allowed In This Shop,”

the sign itself a poem, like the dusk

that comes like a cowl around us,

to the sick uncle, to the thieving uncle,

to the uncle who sleeps in the day,

his sleep careful as a tea ceremony

or a poem, a poem that is old and full

of days, a poem like an old china

plate that is the color of time, the dusk

having its supper of fog and people

walking through the fog, the fallen

leaves in the parks like strewn credit

cards, which are also poems, like

the typewriter writing the letter

one little tooth at a time, one love at

a time, in our city of paper and crows.

from Poetry Northwest WEBMore by Rick Barot from the library

Copyright © Rick Barot
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

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.