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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 9, 2017.
About this Poem 

“I write from experience. ‘Emotion is a site of unraveling’ is a line from from the writer and theorist Judith Butler, who helps me to understand my experiences as I have them. Poetry is a form of philosophy, of activism, and of history, but it is also only movement in the grass.”
—Julie Carr

Foreclosing on That Peril

I’ll keep explaining—because maybe you still don’t get it
Those children in California (substitute any state), dead from gunfire—
Let me begin again in a little roof garden with my friend
A perverse reader, he listens to my stories as if they were TV
I mean he mocks me lovingly on the roof and at the library book sale
My friend is not a banker but a prison activist
He used to be a philosopher, but like many philosophers, he’s taken a turn
that should be easy to understand
The trajectory from philosopher to activist is like the curve of a single brushstroke across a large canvas
Artists in the fifties paid attention to that
I hate flat language like this, but I’m pretty flat
sometimes. You have to be your own dictator
and the law is, hate yourself if you have to, but don’t stop doing the thing you said you were going to do
As I tell my daughters often
Emotion is a site of unraveling (JB)
I admit, gripping my T-shirt
I wish I were writing in prose an unfolding intensity that shocks history professors and prison activists equally
Later, in the grass, we’ll practice gymnastics and that way contribute our sweat
to Our Ephemeral City

Copyright © 2017 by Julie Carr. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 9, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Julie Carr. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 9, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Julie Carr

Julie Carr

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Julie Carr was selected by Cole Swensen for the University of Georgia Contemporary Poetry Prize for her debut collection Mead: An Epithalamion.

by this poet

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        1. It does not take much

        2. Half an hour here, half an hour there

        3. It’s not a “presence” I adore

        4. The erotically swollen moon

        5. Let me go, friends, companions

        6. The soldier watches his kid in a play

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1. I cannot freeze sound
2. or collapse phantom scaffolding
3. I open one contradiction
4. after another. They call this “erotic intelligence”
5. or emptiness
6. They abuse the powdery line
7. at once blessed and beautiful
8. and blank
9. as benign limbs
10. Where have

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