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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

That voice—from the tv—that voice,
thick smoky cheese, or, no—
dark as burnt flan, sweet,
venison-sweet in the heavy smoke
of a tavern hearth, and hot as brandy.
I served that voice for months,
in a theater on 13th near Third
where losers are the ones who crack first.
I gave you azured hours, nights,
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
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