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About this Poem 

"As I wrote this poem, I was thinking, or trying to think, about wars, especially the horrors of our recent wars, and about individual and collective responsibility. But the whole time I was also thinking about Paul Celan’s work--that I don't understand it at all, that I love it, that loving it feels wrong--and about individual and collective responsibility."
--Shane McCrae

The Best Thing Anyone Ever Said About Paul Celan

Shane McCrae

Today you will the     say the any ever

best thing any ever anyone

Said about Paul Celan

The world is if it isn’t     does it matter isn’t

waiting     or it might be might as well

Be if it knew     and some

People for some     people the wait is mostly it’s

a world in which the fact of Paul Celan

was and is always will have been and be

A fact and necessary     living in such a world

is the far greater agony the wait is no

agony     not compared to living in that world it is

Absurd to say he wouldn’t Paul Celan would recognize it still

No person ever is naive

but populations are naive and always will be

even innocent

is the far greater agony

It is     / More like a toothache

the pain of the wait for some

More like a pain in the hole from which

You even now prepare yourself to speak

Copyright © 2013 by Shane McCrae. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 15, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Shane McCrae

by this poet


A white man wouldn't less

He stripped me naked was

Whipping me know

I was a woman     got

A name just turn

It inside out

And I'm a man

How else I'm gonna know myself

When I am called

A white

Brother is we is each of us we ghosts

Brother of white folks we

don't never known us brother we

Because we never doesn't fits

Nowhere we brother

doesn't fits in bodies

Our bodies we is always walking leaking

like a ghost can't be a body in one place

But every eyes     / Catches and pulls at it