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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 27, 2016.
About this Poem 

“This poem considers the fantasy (the myth) of writing as a politically and ethically neutral force—how seductive to imagine that the act of writing is less sticky than acts in the world. Ultimately, how flawed.”
—Wendy Xu

Praxis

I had put down in writing my fear of the war

I too pined for pastoral description

The blue of the water was the blue of the world

Newness does not, for me, equal satisfaction

A finite number of concentric rings I push out into space

A tedious fabric moving through time without malice

An act of oration, rebellion, inventory, fantasy

The sound of the earth closing its one good eye over me

Imagine: you reach out towards the margin’s white hand

You do what your poems want and are clean

When you lay down your thorns you will be done

You do not take up arms against anyone

Copyright © 2016 by Wendy Xu. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 27, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Wendy Xu. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 27, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Wendy Xu

Wendy Xu

Wendy Xu is the author of Phrasis (Fence Books, 2017) and You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013).

by this poet

poem

An absence declares
its blunt self. I can’t believe the extent
of my luck, heard twice, like violets
in a bath of lukewarm water.
The city was my father’s though none
of its sweetness appears here living
before you. A strong instrument.
A blowing on the hands
and neck. A

poem

It’s the inside which comes out, as I contemplate
him there half in sunlight, weeding diligently
a Midwestern lawn. On my persons, I have only notes
and a drying pen, the memory of onion blossoms
scenting in a window. Reflection is my native medium.
I am never arriving, only speaking

2
poem

I walked there guilty by tongue but not by mind
The water was breaking on a soft green rock
The rock was breaking underfoot despite a lack of intention
My works contained no genius, only an agitated bouquet of ideas
White ones, sand ones, some almost blue
An image I returned to: deep green