poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, August 3, 2017.
About this Poem 

“This poem attempts to puzzle out some of the following questions: in our secular age, from where does the right of total judgment derive? What are the potential personal consequences and ethical implications when my nation’s military kills in the name of my safety? Personally and nationally, should we be warier of internal or external threats? What if I embrace strangers rather than desolate them outright?”
—Iain Haley Pollock

the smoke of the country went up

Drop fire from the sky but don’t name me
as reason. My sister is lost on the longest lit road

in the world. She wanders into shoe stores
the hour before close and chews the stock

back to rawhide. My father’s workshop tools
have broken into open rebellion—he worked

and worked them to the bone. Any second now
the circular saw will churn through the basement door

and into the kitchen, gnawing the floor to spit
and sawdust. Out West my cousin has soldered

the mirrored lenses of police-issue sunglasses
over his ocular cavities. All he sees is wrong.

Alert the Department of the Interior: our enemies
are inside the fence. Drop fire from the sky

but don’t expect it to purify their hate.
Or, if it does, it’ll burn me clean with the rest.

Here’s my hope for salvation: when the stranger
comes knocking, open my arms wide with the door

and give him whatever he takes.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Iain Haley Pollock. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Iain Haley Pollock. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Iain Haley Pollock

Iain Haley Pollock

Iain Haley Pollock is the author of Spit Back a Boy (University of Georgia Press, 2011).

by this poet

poem

This morning, the lovers—
who last night were slurring and stumbling
and when I looked out, each gripping
the other’s taut throat in a clench of callous
and nail—sit on their front steps. The woman
smokes an idle cigarette. The man lounges
two steps down from her and leans his head

2