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TWO POEMS by Lee Sharkey

CIVILIZATION Even in the most inhospitable circumstances there is always time for a cup of tea. Say you live in a cup with a hole blasted in its side in a blasted landscape, by a blasted tree and an empty barrel.

CIVILIZATION

Even  in  the  most   inhospitable  circumstances   there  is  always  time  for  a  cup  of tea.
Say you live in a cup with a hole blasted in its side in a blasted landscape, by a blasted tree
and    an   empty    barrel.   You   can  still  park   your   worn   down   shoes  side   by  side
at  the  door  and  steep  your  questions  in  hot  water.   Since   you  are  a  man  of letters
I  imagine  you  have  many.    As  steam  brushes  your   cheeks  you  may  read  the leaves.
Take  your  time.  The  wind  is  aroused  and  the  clouds  are  either  massing  or  clearing.
You have  lost  everything but not what makes you human.  I don’t mean your coat and tie.

 

SHELTER

The forebears have gathered. The clocks have split open. Clock hands lie on the ground
like bent utensils.  The forebears emerged through the rock.  They are  ruins. Dissevered.
Parallel  faces  frozen  in  profile.   The  forebears  are  listening.   And  there  you  stand
(I almost missed you),  memory’s  king,  an  ant  among  giants,  hands  tucked  in  your
pockets,  downcast,  with  a  stone  for  a   shadow,   waiting  for   whispers,  husbanding
wisdom,  at  home  at last  in an  old  stone Eden.   Whose  face  does  the rock face bear
and  repeat,  each  and  every — your  face,  God  face,  Jew  face,  membranous blessing.

 

 

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About Lee Sharkey

Lee Sharkey
Lee Sharkey is the author of Calendars of Fire (Tupelo, 2013), A Darker, Sweeter String (Off the Grid, 2008), and eight earlier full-length poetry collections and chapbooks. Her work has appeared in Consequence, Crazyhorse, FIELD, Kenyon Review, Nimrod, Pleiades, The Seattle Review, and other journals. She is the recipient of the Abraham Sutzkever Centennial Translation Prize, the Maine Arts Commission’s Fellowship in Literary Arts, the Shadowgraph Poetry Prize, and Zone 3’s Rainmaker Award in Poetry. "Civilization" and "Shelter" were written in response to paintings by Samuel Bak.