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Tag: Iain Haley Pollock

An Abridged History of American Violence

The boys are kicking over garbage cans

and smashing car windows with heaves

of glass bottles. Time in the pest house

of school or remediation on a road crew

has moved them to boredom with bare knuckles

and stolen knives. Soon, their insecurity

will concentrate on the grip of a Glock

till an enemy, who a minute before

was unknown and not an enemy, appears

under a streetlight. The provocation

will be slight: soft palms hardened

to a shove. In days to come,

friends of the enemy will strip bark

from the few trees they know and graffiti

their grief onto the trunks. And the boys,

even after the votive jars have filled

with rainwater and plastic rose bouquets

have somehow wilted in the humidity,

the boys will also mourn their killed.

In their woe they will want for a light

to slow-drag through them, a light

like the reflection of sequin or chrome.

They will not find it and they will not

find it until they are discovered faceup

in a dirt lot where neighbors remember

a house, a while back, was torn down,

where now bricks and teeth of glass

push up, like Indian bones, through the soil.

from Ghost, like a PlaceFind more by Iain Haley Pollock at the library

Copyright © 2018 Iain Haley Pollock
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

On the Migration of Black Oystermen from Snow Hill, Maryland to Sandy Ground, Staten Island

What flag will fly for me / When I die?

—Langston Hughes

From a distance, my flag

and star could be you. I could be.

If I weren’t, my body—the place

would still have need of it. No

Romanesque without me. I am.

I am. And the price of my being:

no monuments built me. None

save those cradled in crabgrass,

left for chicory. No monuments

but the air breathed. The history

of arches and burning

hearts. The history of false teeth

and matches. No monument

but the knowledge gained in overrun

gardens: yellow-ringed snakes

and plumage of undiscovered

birds. But the topography

of mountains we have yet

to scale (looming forever

in the haze).

My body, your body—

all our lives we have known

each other. Your arms clung

to porch columns. Mine painted

the fence in whitewash. Mine stood by

the gate and held it, every morning, open.

You saw me once. You do not see me.

My talk to you comes out a backward

cacophony, the chattering of crows

in the field’s distant sycamore.

You do not see me. You do not

see me. No monument

you’d ever recognize. A flutter.

A spring hinge. A flush

of violet above tough stalk.

A line of char in the soil.

A catch, in your lungs,

of cold air. I am. I could be.

from Ghost, like a PlaceFind more by Iain Haley Pollock at the library

Copyright © 2018 Iain Haley Pollock
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

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.