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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 25, 2017.
About this Poem 
“This poem is excerpted from a long lyric sequence, ‘Soft Targets,’ which was written after the recent terror attacks in Paris. The random cruelty of that violence—and the body’s terrible vulnerability in the city—haunted and continues to haunt me.”
—Deborah Landau
 

from "Soft Targets"

A breath leaves the body, and wishes it could return maybe,
the news to the left and right rich with failure, terror, dither,
the bloated moon in constant charge of us like vapor—
 
and this did frame our constituency, even in our cozy homes
even in a painless state on the downriver, oh oblivion—
sipping champagne as another night brings forth its big dancing plan its damage.
 
I had a thought but it turned autumn, turned cold.
I had a body, unwearied, vital, despite the funeral in everything—
ample with bodies, covered in graves and gardens, potholes and water,
 
an ardent river we walked together, a wine and rising breeze.
Much trouble at hand, yet the lilies still.
That summer we sat with our backs to the street, letting time  pass—
 
lying all afternoon in the grass as if green and insect were the world.
I am, I am, and you are, you are, we wrote, until the paper seemed a tree again
and we walked beneath it greener and unsullied afresh.
 
Massive powers that be, what will be?
We smoke our pipes to forget you
& mildly now we bide our time
 
the violence and real cities under siege,
but also filled this morning
with coffee drinkers, office workers, taxi drivers, boys on bikes.
 
Golden we were in the moment of conception,
and alive, as if we always would be.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Deborah Landau. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 25, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Deborah Landau. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 25, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Deborah Landau

Deborah Landau

Deborah Landau is the author of three books of poems, including The Uses of the Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2015). She teaches in and directs the Creative Writing Program at New York University.

by this poet

poem
the moon might rise and it might not
and if it brings a ghost light we will read beneath it

and if it returns to earth
we will listen for its phrases

and if I'm alone at the bedside table
I will have a ghost book to refer to

and when I lie back I'll see its imprint 
beneath my blood-red lids:

not lettered
poem

At night, down the hall into the bedroom we go.
In the morning we enter the kitchen.
Places, please. On like this,

without alarm. I am the talker and taker
he is the giver and the bedroom man.
We are out of order but not broken.

He says, let's make this one short.
She

poem

I’m on a bike and someone’s name is forming.

The road is potholes the road is dust.

Cruising the dirt, the meadow humming with bugs.

Dust rising, tires crushing rock, bats ejecting from under the barn

streaming the insected air the pulse life repeating life looping