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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 22, 2018.
About this Poem 

“We are seeing strong men across the globe rise up, take resources, refuse to leave. Sooner or later (usually later) the citizenry demands change, as recently happened in Zimbabwe. Watching Robert Mugabe ‘perform’ a ritual of defiance in the wake of demands for his resignation was the catalyst for this poem. Fortunately, the defiance of the people—the same people he had imperiled—outmatched his. Defiance of authority, resistance to dictatorship is a fact of our lives around this globe.”
—Patricia Spears Jones

Defiant

Fruit from one vine tangles with another
Making a mess of the intended harvest, yet
the lack of calculation is welcome
 
that accident that shifts bodies from shadows
into a locus of light midday bright & caustic
wounds un-healed   newsreel cameras trap
 
this old & angry man in a bespoke suit lifting
white pages & refusing to read them, mumbles
unwelcome threats & thanks the nation
 
the nation kicks him out—finally defiant
after years of misrule, disruption, murder
and the choked voice youth terrorized
 
he wants more blood on his hands so that
when he enters his version of paradise
all will be red.

Copyright © 2018 by Patricia Spears Jones. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 22, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Patricia Spears Jones. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 22, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Patricia Spears Jones

Patricia Spears Jones

Patricia Spears Jones, a longtime resident of New York City, is the author of A Lucent Fire: New & Selected Poems (White Pine Press, 2015).

by this poet

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And I am full of worry I wrote to a friend
Worry, she replied about what—love, money, health?

All of them, I wrote back. It’s autumn, the air is clear
and you hear death music—the rattle of leaves swirling

the midnight cat howling, a newborn baby’s 3 am
call for food or help or heart’s

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We have encountered storms 
Perfect in their drench and wreck
 
Each of us bears an ornament of grief
A ring, a notebook, a ticket torn, scar
It is how humans know their kind—
 
What is known as love, what can become  
the heart’
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The man with the black feather tattoo pares this space
Between fantasy and the memory of a man’s carved
Torso, designed for stroking and celebration.

Today the sun’s brightness is like that lover’s kiss,
Wonderful in the present and greater in memory.

A memory that brings me back to that

2