Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Arlene Weiner: Nearer

All day our brilliant screens show without letup

hysterical screamers winning money prizes,

a woman sneering at another’s getup,

boys doing jackass stunts in various guises,

in aspiration to become well known.

A reporter poses before a green setup

and picturesque, a foreign ruin rises.

A war somewhere, an earthquake. No surprises.


But images now, sent from a cellphone,

show kids you know shooting, shot, dead! Alone

on the sofa, God sleeps through these dull affairs,

this noise, while darling Pity watches Terror

caper and tap dance up and down the stairs.


Author’s note: I wrote this after the Virginia Tech massacre. How many deaths ago? It started out as an imitation of Rimbaud’s “Mal,” and then Pity and Terror in the guise of Shirley Temple and Bojangles Robinson danced into it.

From City Bird (Ragged Sky, 2016). Copyright Arlene Weiner.

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