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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 1, 2016.
About this Poem 

“Although this is not a sonnet, I got interested in the possibilities of argument as a poetic mode when I started studying sonnets in depth. I keep playing with two voices, or more, or just the self arguing with itself—in a refusal of consensus, an insistence on the unresolved.”
—April Bernard

Blood Argument

You insist
that the world belongs to a stony-hearted goat-god—
how every time we act, we enact
his vileness; how this is no
ecstasy, just a bad labored joke.

Your body in spasm
longs to strip the flesh, but if you do
there will be nothing left but the busy
bone-clatter of tactics.


I will listen instead to the river,
cold as time, smelling of blood-brown leaves.

Copyright © 2016 April Bernard. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 April Bernard. Used with permission of the author.

April Bernard

April Bernard

April Bernard is the author of Brawl & Jag (W. W. Norton, 2016). She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, where she teaches at Skidmore College and in the low-residency MFA in Writing program at Bennington College.

by this poet

At least that many buffet here, and I
erect as the monument despite my hope to be flattened.
If only the winds could take the horse-sobs
that heave from me, wind-whipped
without the grace of speech; if only
these small creatures with amused, skeptical eyes
could offer me their chittering, their business
You know what I mean: In the instant
of waking in bliss, the whole body smiles—

He's still alive—She came back—They didn't mean it—
We forgive and are forgiven—It all turned out—

And then the hand claws the duvet,
seized by the real, as all that's warm just drops.

I know you know. But I seek a potion
to make
The cloth edge of certainty
has shredded down to this:
God and love are real,
but very far away.
If I go to Istanbul, will I return?
That is not one of the permitted questions.
When I go to Istanbul, how will I bear to return?
I could slip into the small streets
to the high plain and the Caucasus—

It's all