Big-picture question: Will we ever get over 9/11? A decade on, do we want to shake that ghost and the security and surveillance and secrecy industries it spawned? We’ve acquired a new language, a new public budget, a new mental map of the world. Will we rescue our character, our culture, and our Constitution from a sort of 9/11 P.T.S.D?
March 6, 2014
• Peniel Joseph, author of the new biography, Stokely: A Life, and professor of history at Tufts University.
• Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Warmth of Other Suns, on the great migration of African-Americans.
• Jamarhl Crawford, editor of the Blackstonian and an activist/artist based in Roxbury.
Stokely Carmichael was a down-home organizer and radical off-beat visionary of racial equality in America 50 years ago, a quicksilver activist, theorist, street hero, preacher and prophet of black revolution in America and the world. He’s in the civil rights pantheon, for sure, but he’s still struggling in spirit with the leadership, especially the example of Martin Luther King; and he’s still a scarecrow in the memory of white America. Stokely Carmichael had some of Malcolm X’s fury and fire, and some of the comedian Richard Pryor’s gift with a punchline, too. “Black power” was his slogan that became a chant, that built his bad-boy celebrity and awakened a political generation but may also have been his undoing in the 1960s. So what does a half-century’s hindsight make of the man and his Pan-African vision? And while we’re at it: what would Stokely Carmichael make of black power today – looking at Hollywood, Hip Hop, the White House, and prisons and poverty?
- Stokely Carmichael, “What We Want,” from The New York Review of Books (1966):
An organization which claims to speak for the needs of a community, as does the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, must speak in the tone of that community, not as somebody else’s buffer zone. This is the significance of black power as a slogan. For once, black people are going to use the words they want to use, not just the words whites want to hear. And they will do this no matter how often the press tries to stop the use of the slogan by equating it with racism or separatism.
- Black Power: The Politics of Liberation, the bible of the movement, by Carmichael (under his African name, Kwame Ture) and Charles Hamilton;
- Peniel Joseph talks about his new biography with the Boston Globe, and presents a helpful introduction to Carmichael’s life and legacy at The Root;
- Two of Jamarhl Crawford’s contributions to the discussion: a speech to Occupy Boston from 2011, and Blackstonian’s ongoing reporting on shootings in the city;
- Two great films — the episode on the classic series Eyes on the Prize given to the March Against Fear in 1966, and the more recent Black Power Mixtape.
March 6, 2014
We’re in my living room again with a group of friends drinking wine and reading Chekhov, the great short story writer of Russia and the reading world. We love him for so many reasons, including the fact that he invites us to digress. We’re reading a famous story called “The Student.” It’s a late winter, early spring night in the 1890s, Easter weekend. A student is coming home from shooting, and he pauses to share a Gospel story — Peter’s denial of Jesus — with peasant women. Chekhov liked to say this was his favorite story; a lot of people disagreed with him, some vehemently. I think he liked to say it because the story ends on an exalted note, as if to answer those who thought he was desperately gloomy and dark and atheistic. He may have said that he loved it as a sort of sop to his critics. It is for me not only the most perfect, postage-stamp little dose of Chekhov’s moods, alternately bleak and ecstatic; it also sets a complex reflection on betrayal, hardship, history and hope in an unforgettably beautiful scene.
From the Archives • March 3, 2014
Isabel Wilkerson is the epic tale teller of the Great Migration of Southern black people that remade America — sound, substance and spirit — in the 20th Century. The proof is in the soundtrack — musical highlights of a comprehensive revolution. It was one of two modern migrations, it’s been said, that made American culture what it is — of blacks from the Jim Crow South, and of Jews from Central and Eastern Europe.
The movement of masses is an ageless, ongoing piece of human history: in India and China today, more people migrate internally from village to city in one year than left the South from the onset of World War I (1915) to the end of the Civil Rights era (1970), as Isabel Wilkerson frames her story. But was there ever a migration that beyond moving people transformed a national culture as ours did? Songs, games, language, art, style, worship, every kind of entertainment including pro sports — in fact almost all we feel about ourselves, how we look to the world, changed in the sweep of Isabel Wilkerson’s magnificent story, The Warmth of Other Suns.
Great swaths of the pop and serious culture I grew up in – my children as well – were fruit of Ms. Wilkerson’s story: Jazz and its immortals like Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Illinois Jacquet, Miles Davis, the Basie and Ellington bands and stars like Duke’s greatest soloist Johnny Hodges, whose family moved from Virginia to Boston very early in the century; Mahalia Jackson and Gospel music; Rhythm and Blues, Ray Charles, the Motown sound, the Jackson family and little Michael; sports immortals like Bill Russell and Jackie Robinson, and athletes without number are players in this story. Writers, actors, politicians, comedians… Toni Morison, Spike Lee, Michelle Obama are all children of the Great Migration.
It was “the first big step the nation’s servant class took without asking,” in one of many graceful Wilkerson lines about “a leaderless revolution.” But it was a graceless, usually violent, threatened, lonely experience. Isabel Wilkerson is speaking of the mothers, fathers and families that faced it down — the Russells of Monroe, Louisiana, in one example, who gave the world the greatest team-sport winner we ever saw (13 seasons with the Boston Celtics, 11 NBA championships), the most charismatic defensive player in any game on earth. But for the migration, Wilkerson observes, Bill Russell “might have been working in a hardware store. It’s hard to know — there are a lot of mills around Monroe, LA. It’s hard to imagine what would have happened to that enormous talent that changed a sport…
They lived under a caste system … known as Jim Crow. Bill Russell’s family experienced some of the harsh realities of that. One story involving Bill Russell’s father involves a day where he was just wanting to get gas. The custom in the Jim Crow South is that when an African American was in line for something, any white southerner who came up could cut in line.
One white motorist after another had shown up and gone in front of him, and he had to wait, and he had to wait, and he had to wait. Eventually he decided he would just back out and drive the half-hour to the next gas station where he might be able to get served. As he was beginning to back out, the owner of the gas station stopped pumping gas for the white motorist he was working with and got a shotgun, held it to Bill Russell’s father’s head and said “You’ll leave when I tell you to leave. Don’t ever let me see you trying that again.”
His mother was, around the same time, stopped on the street because she was dressed in her Sunday clothes. … A police officer stopped her and said “You go home right now and take that off. That is not what a colored woman should be wearing.” …
The family decided that they would leave Monroe Louisiana, a very difficult decision, for a far away place, Oakland California. And it was there that Bill Russell had the opportunity to go to integrated schools, to be able to go to an NCAA school; he would never had had the opportunity to do that had they stayed in the South. He ended up leading the Dons of UCSF to two NCAA championships, and then of course came to the attention of the Celtics… Basketball would not be what we know it to be, had this Great Migration not occurred. And he’s but one person out of this entire experience of six million people who migrated.
Isabel Wilkerson in conversation with Chris Lydon, October 5, 2010.
February 28, 2014
Stephen Walt, Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University, author of the bombshell book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, and a columnist at Foreign Policy.
Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, a Pakistani academic, a commentator at Pulse, and author of the forthcoming The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War.
Dr. Laurence Ronan, a staff physician at Mass General Hospital, director of the Thomas S. Durant, M.D., Fellowship in Refugee Medicine, and medical director for the Boston Red Sox, calling in from spring training.
Nabih Bulos, professional violinist and war correspondent, born in Jordan to Palestinian parents, who returned from a trip to Damascus two weeks ago.
With Iraq and Afghanistan bleeding in our rear-view mirror, is there a case still to be made for American intervention with anything more than words in Syria’s miserable meltdown? The news and pictures from Syria are perfectly awful – sarin gas against civilians succeeded by barrel bombs on Aleppo, millions of Syrians on the run, all varieties of torture, targeting of children and doctors, a death toll in two-and-a-half years of warfare approaching 150,000, and no end in sight. But is there anything like a constructive case for American intervention?
Our guest Steve Walt from Harvard was a leader of the “realist” school of American strategy before it was fashionable. He warned all along that war with Iraq would undermine the US interest; today he’s saying we should be fighting the temptation to commit American power in Syria. Our guest from London, Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, is the historian of folly in Iraq, the “Neoconservative War,” he calls it. But he’s telling us that Syria is different – a murderous tyranny that only the threat of American force can check. And Nabih Bulos, the Los Angeles Times journalist, is just back from Damascus and a tour of the besieged city of Homs and Yarmouk refugee camp inside the city.
What should we have done, what can we still do, and is it too late to pass the test in Syria?
- Stephen Walt’s letter opposing military action in Syria from September, and “The New Foreign Policy Sobriety” on a public skeptical of American interventions.
- Muhammad Idrees Ahmad argued on Al-Jazeera America in September that the British Parliament “over-learned” the lessons of the rush to war in Iraq.
- The veteran foreign-policy thinker William Polk wrote a long explainer of the roots of the civil war in Syrian history and geography for The Atlantic.
- Fred Kaplan, ”Obama Isn’t Disengaged from the World“, Slate.
- Charles Glass, “Syria: On the Way to Genocide?,” The New York Review of Books.
- Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi (editors of The Syria Dilemma), “Use Force to Save Starving Syrians, “The New York Times.
- Two documentaries: FRONTLINE, Children of Aleppo, and BBC Panorama, Saving Syria’s Children.
February 27, 2014
Nasser Rabbat is the Aga Khan Professor of Islamic architecture at MIT, a Damascene from way back. The question we ask him is, “What will we say happened to Syria in front of our eyes, and was non-intervention in Syria as damaging in the end as previous American interventions have been?”
Nasser Rabbat wrote a marvelous account of his father’s death last year, a man who lived through most of the 20th century, and a great deal of Syria’s national history. It is the story of both a man and his nation.
He wanted to go back to Damascus and die in Damascus. So how do I sum up his life? A Lebanese cardiologist was summoned to come and see him. My dad was half-drugged and had an IV in his hand and oxygen in his nose. The doctor was saying, “So what is paining you the most, where do you feel pain?” And my dad, in a very soft voice, answered the question, “Syria, the problem in Syria.”
Nasser Rabat speaking with Christopher Lydon on February 19th, 2014
From the Archives • February 25, 2014
Yehudi Wyner is an approachable guy in a forbidding field: contemporary “serious” music. He gives us an opening here to ask where new sounds come from. In his case new music comes out of a sort of compost of the canon, from Bach to Bartok, and then everything else he’s heard over 80 years, from his father’s Yiddish art songs to boogie-woogie and gospel music. “Somehow it registers in the brain and has an effect,” he says of the past. The other big thing you’ll be hearing from Yehudi Wyner is that his music has its very bodily beginning in his hands. It’s a physical, almost gymnastic test of what ten fingers can do, want to do, find themselves doing.
The centerpiece here is the Pulitzer Prize piano concerto that was a Grammy finalist this year, “Chiavi in Mano” (or “Keys in the Hand”). Yehudi Wyner wrote it for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the pianist Robert Levin, “Mozart’s nephew,” as we call him here, the man who has presumed to fill in some missing elements in the “unfinished Mozart.” The one-movement “Chiavi in Mano” begins with an introspective piano solo and ends with an orchestral boogie-woogie. In between is a roaring contest of the elements. “For Bob Levin,” the composer laughs, “it’s just a skirmish, a war game with dull bayonets.” But all of it — in Yehudi Wyner’s unveiling of his process — stems from the simplest contrast of intervals between keys on the piano: the major and minor “third” between, say, C and E, then C and E-flat. It’s as simple and as grand as that: using a cellular structure to build something new and various, as different and connected in its parts as your nose and your toes.
The privilege here is to sit at the piano with a man who can think and play and talk all at once:
CL: You were playing a Bach Partita when we walked in. What does that daily dose do for a man?
YW: It gives him the feeling that he’s in touch with the greatest possible art: physical, mental, spiritual, integrated, and above all, healthy. Bach was really, I think, the greatest artist and possibly the greatest specimen of human being and thinker who ever was conceived on earth.
CL: Does the composing happen, Yehudi, between hands and ear, or do you write it with eye and pencil?
YW: Hands and ear. Hands, ear and pencil. And instrument. I work at the piano. The model for me is the indescribable, sensuous, as well as intellectual joy of dealing with Bach or Mozart. Other composers too, of course, but they above all, where every moment at whatever level of struggle… has a satisfaction, always is nourishing. I do this at the instrument and test it and feel how durable it is, how much I can stand repeating something without finding it exhausting or boring, then I think I have achieved something, I’ve found something, I’ve stumbled on some material that’s worthwhile.
CL: Is there a gold-standard “perfect” piece of music out there for you?
YW: No. If you want to say, are there 1000 pieces from the canon that I love beyond description and can find no fault with, I would say yes. But I do not feel there is one.
CL: Yehudi, give us a report to the ancestors, so to speak. A decade into the 21st Century, what’s the state of this art?
YW: I came back from the Grammys two weeks ago feeling there is very little affirmative music in contemporary America, and has not been for the last fifty years, because what passes as affirmative is really rather imperial and militaristic. It all comes from a kind of big-band, I mean marching-band society, and it blares and it proclaims, but it doesn’t really affirm. It ascribes to the affirmation that Beethoven would have, but it fails all the time because it’s very superficial and aggressive. And that applies even to the music of people we admire, like Copland and others. But it occurred to me — with all the jazz references in “Chiavi in Mano” — that that’s where the true affirmation in American music is. It’s in popular music, it’s in jazz, it’s in gospel. That music is so self-sufficient, it never proclaims its affect, or its message. It just is the message.
The music that is being promulgated, that is being produced and broadcast most widely, is aggressive, very shiny, very egocentric, very repetitive, and noisy, busy, and in some ways, mindless. It’s very physical. The problem not that that music exists, it’s that that music has inundated our culture and our youth. When you finish being conditioned by that music, there’s very little capability of any kind of other sensibility. You’re no longer sensitive to things that move at a slower pace, things that are nuanced, things that have complication and things that have lots of reference to the past.
CL: What’s the chance that we’ll get composers’ music in the public ear again — even in the manner of Copland and Gershwin?
YW: I think for the foreseeable future the chances are very slim. In the long term, things change. Certain cultures collapse and others come up, the convention of the concert hall and the function of concert music and art music is not a permanent given. The audience is certainly shrinking and certainly aging. Those things are incontrovertible. The thing that persuades us that there are possibilities for other things is the ubiquitous presence of music: people have it on their iTunes, they have it constantly at their beck and call. There is this phenomenon… people coming out of schools and forming small groups here and there, and somehow keeping the art alive, perhaps as the monks kept ancient art alive in the monasteries, in isolation during the middle ages. But I think for the foreseeable future there is no possibility for an Igor Stravinsky or a Shostakovich, or an Aaron Copland, or even an Ives on the general public screen.
Yehudi Wyner at his piano bench with Chris Lydon in Medford, Massachusetts, February 18, 2010.
February 20, 2014
A new rite of passage is taking hold among ambitious young doctors entering modern practice in a new century. It can take a year or two after medical school: working far corners of the poor world, and sometimes later years split back and forth between a community clinic in rural Malawi and a neurology fellowship at Mass General in Boston. The trend is striking: of the new medical doctors coming out of US medical schools in the mid-80s, one in twenty had spent some real time abroad in healthcare. Ten years ago it was one in 5. Last year it was one in 3. So more and more doctors, yours and mine, acting locally, will be thinking globally, with many implications.
Our radio conversation is about the lessons that flow both ways. Some have to do with technology and drugs, but many more with building ground support in community clinics; also with the training of nurses, even with refining the bedside manner and hands-on, make-do skills of American doctors who arrive, as they say, with “sandals on the ground.” They come back “thinking different” about who needs what kind of doctoring in the States. Consider this, for example: Bill Gates’s foundation report this winter predicts there will be no more poor countries by 2035, that’s two decades out; we’ll just have an awful lot of poor people in middle-income countries. We know that problem in the US, and we haven’t turned it around. But there are clues out there in the developing world and lessons coming home with the young doctors: lessons in community care outside the big hospital ERs; lessons in “accompanying” care, lessons in prevention, in doing more with less and getting sharply better outcomes, also in putting moral urgency behind more effective care for everybody.
- Ophelia Dahl is the executive director and a co-founder (with Paul Farmer, Jim Kim, the late Tom White, and others) of Partners in Health, the Boston-based non-profit that has taken as its mission to bring great health care to the world’s poorest people and “to serve as an antidote to despair”.
- Dr. Daniel Palazuelos is PIH’s chief strategist at its site in Chiapas, Mexico, and directs their efforts to ensure the success of their community-health workers, who are charged with the “accompaniment” of patients.
- Pat Daoust is the chief nursing officer at SEED Global Health, an organization dedicated to training a new generation of health professionals for work in the developing world. Daoust has served as one of the leading figures in HIV/AIDS nursing for decades, first with the AIDS Action Committee, then with the Harvard AIDS Initiative in Botswana and Ethiopia.
- In “Partners in Help,” Paul Farmer gives an ethos of “accompaniment” to those working with the poor and the ill — work tirelessly, with an open mind, and until you’re no longer needed:
There’s an element of mystery, of openness, of trust, in accompaniment. The companion, the accompagnateur, says: “I’ll go with you and support you on your journey wherever it leads; I’ll share your fate for a while. And by ‘a while,’ I don’t mean a little while.” Accompaniment is about sticking with a task until it’s deemed completed, not by the accompagnateur but by the person being accompanied.
- “Slow Ideas,” Atul Gawande’s latest essay in The New Yorker, tells us that the important changes in medicine will depend not on easy technological fixes, but on big and sometimes grueling social change.
- In “From Haiti to Harvard,” on WBUR’s own Commonhealth blog, Rachel Zimmerman tells of the difficulties that community health workers in Boston face every day — and of the promise they represent for the American medical establishment.
- Our guest, Dr. Daniel Palazuelos, wrote a short piece about the myths and realities surrounding community health workers abroad.
- And the 2014 annual letter of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation looks forward to the hoped-for end of global poverty as we know it.
From the Archives • February 20, 2014
Cuba’s revolutionary vanguard: US medical students Keasha Guerrier, Kereese Gayle and Akua Brown
Three winters ago our Open Source trip to Cuba turned around on an astonishing moment of serendipity. At a bus stop in Havana my colleague Paul McCarthy heard a laugh he recognized from high school in California. “Only Akua Brown laughs like that,” he blurted. And Akua Brown it was, the friend he hadn’t seen for a decade, now finishing her fourth year at the Latin American Medical School in Havana.
Over the next few days, Akua Brown and her friends poured out their four-year immersion in Cuban life and language, Cuban magic and slang, the Cuban versions of sexism and racism, Cuban boyfriends and families, drums and faith, bureaucracy and student volleyball, and by the way, this strange Cuban thing about toilet seats and toilet paper: the revolution doesn’t seem to believe in either.
But the core of our long conversations is medicine, the Cuban way. This is aggressive, free, hands-on health care that makes house calls, and lingers for the feel of emotions and homelife. Doctors’ training like doctors’ care is free: the payback required of the students here from all over the hemisphere is only that they return to underserved areas of their home countries.
Michael Moore and our friend the Nobel Prize cardiologist Bernard Lown knew the results in Cuba all along. “I have been to Cuba 6 times,” Dr. Lown emailed me, “and learned much about doctoring in Cuba. Their thinking on social determinants of health, on the primacy of public health and the vital role of prevention strategies are unmatched in the world. With spending of less than $200 per person per year for health care, they have achieved health outcomes no different than in the USA where expenditures now exceed $7000 per person annually!”
Keasha Guerrier, a science major from the New York Institute of Technology, knew about Cuban medicine because “my father’s from Haiti, my mom is from Guyana.” But her brother teases her about “blackouts” in Cuba, and she has other relatives and friends who don’t know why she’s there, or ask her to “pick up a box of cigars on the way out.”
Am I just a pawn in a game the Cuban government is playing? I push back hard against that idea. There are a lot of things that the Cuban government has done that some people might not agree with. But medicine with a community base in training and practice — that is one the things they got right on the nose. They hit the nail on the head. The people who instituted this program saw how it works in Cuba… and they compared Cuba’s situation to countries in Central and South America or third world countries, Africa, Haiti. And they saw how they can make a difference. Here, you do a lot with a little bit… What they are trying to teach us is that you don’t have to be confined to working for a paycheck. But using all the things that you know, you can help a broad base of people. In that respect, I think that the intentions are pure.
Keasha Guerrier in conversation with Chris Lydon over roast chicken with rice and beans at the restaurant El Ajibe in Havana, December 19, 2008
Kereese Gayle grew up in Lousiana and Florida. She was a Spanish major at Georgetown who could see herself coming out of medical school in the US with crushing debts. “My family is Jamaican,” she says, “so we knew about the quality of the Cuban medical system. To this day I know I’m where Im supposed to be.”
We’re here at a very important time in the history of the world. We’re getting the type of education that I think people are looking for. More and more people are thinking very seriously about the idea of universal health care, about the idea of rights for everyone to basic access to health care. I think we’re going to be a huge part of that…
We learn how to diagnose our patients with our hands, our ears, our eyes more so than with technology–X-Rays, CT scans– because you don’t end up doing those kind of really costly labs as often here. So we definitely have that as an advantage… We learn how to interview our patients thoroughly, and how to do a really thorough physical exam and do it well, and be comfortable with that… Doctors here not only do house visits but they go into homes: they have a form that you fill out to check off what risk factors the person has [in their home]. Is their water contained properly? Do they smoke? We get that kind of first hand view. In the United States, you can ask someone if they smoke or if they have a pet and they easily can lie to you. But here, as someone’s primary physician, you can see not only the physical medical aspects but the psychological medical aspects as well. Do you feel tension the minute you walk into the room? Are people in a mentally healthy environment, or do we need to get [them] to a psychologist. There are so many advantages to the system that we can take back and apply to the communities where we live.
Kereese Gayle in conversation with Chris Lydon sipping lemonade at El Ajibe in Havana, December 19, 2008
Akua Brown minored in Spanish at San Francisco State University, and spent most of her first two years in Havana learning the Cuban vernacular and testing her Bay Area ideal of the Revolution.
The education system here is excellent; there is very little homelessness. Everyone has a right to free health care… up to the most specialized needs. Neurosurgery, open heart surgery, cost nothing to the people. And the fact that a government with so little financial resources is able to do this says that the United States can do so much more… And without the debt that most medical students graduate with, we won’t be afraid to start our own projects and programs without necessarily needing the money to pay back the loans and the things hanging over our heads. Living here for six years, I think we have learned to live a simpler life with bare necessities. I ride the bus, I hitchhike, I buy from the community market. I’m not complaining–home is comfortable, but this is livable.
Akua Brown in conversation with Chris Lydon savoring the coffee at El Ajibe in Havana, December 19, 2008
The practical visions of these blessedly gifted women brought to mind Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s indomitable “world spirit.” Entering the second half-century of both the black freedom movement in the US and the Socialist revolution in Cuba, each with its ups and downs, these very American young women would remind you that grand ideals, the best we have, can prevail. “Things seem to tend downward, to justify despondency, to promote rogues, to defeat the just,” as Emerson wrote at the end of his essay on Montaigne; or the Skeptic. “Although knaves win in every political struggle, although society seems to be delivered over from the hands of one set of criminals into the hands of another set of criminals, as fast as the government is changed, and the march of civilization is a train of felonies,- yet, general ends are somehow answered. We see, now, events forced on which seem to retard or retrograde the civility of ages. But the world-spirit is a good swimmer, and storms and waves cannot drown him…”
February 18, 2014
Nick Flynn, who blew us away with his take on Boston Noir, wrote his breakthrough memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which became a Robert De Niro film, about a tortured relationship with his vagrant and alcoholic father. Jonathan Flynn died his past October at the age of 84 on the same day as American rocker Lou Reed. Nick read for us the poem he wrote about that day. Kunal Jasty mixed it with an outtake of The Velvet Underground’s “Ride into the Sun.”
THE DAY LOU REED DIED
It’s not like his songs are going to simply
but since the news I can’t stop
listening to him
on endless shuffle—familiar, yes, inside
me, yes, which means
I’m alive, or was, depending on when
you read this. Now
a song called “Sad
Song,” the last one on Berlin,
sung now from the other side, just talk,
really, at the beginning, then
or threat, I’m gonna stop wasting
my time, but what else
are we made of, especially now? A chorus
sings Sad song sad song sad song sad
knew him better than I knew my own
father, which means
through these songs, which means
not at all. They died on the same day, O
what a perfect day, maybe
at the same moment, maybe
both their bodies are laid out now in
the freezer, maybe side by side, maybe
holding hands, waiting
for the fire or the earth or the man
or the salt—
if I could I’d let birds devour whatever’s left
& carry them into the sky, but all I can do
is lie on the couch & shiver, pull a coat
over my body as if it were all I had, as if I
were the one sleeping outside, as if it were my
body something was leaving, rising up
from inside me
& the coat could hold it in
a little longer.