"While Trying to Make an Arrowhead in the Fashion of the Mattaponi Indians": a poem by Kevin Powers

We are born to be makers of crude tools.
And our speech is full of cruel
signifiers: you, me, them, us. I
am sure we will not survive.

No. I am only certain that the
pine trees that ring this lake in Virginia
are occasional, that I sit between them
at the water’s edge,

cast two stones against
each other and rest.
For we go down
through these
terrible hours
together.

***

Kevin Powers is an Iraq war veteran whose award-winning first novel, The Yellow Birds, was published in 2012. His debut poetry collection, Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting, will be published by Sceptre next month.

This article first appeared in the 05 March 2014 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's power game

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On Wheels

A new poem by Patrick Mackie

The hills swarm and soften towards the end of the day just as
flames do in a fireplace as the evening
loosens and breaks open and lets out night.
A nasty, grotesque, impatient year ended,
and the new one will be bitter,
tired, opaque. Words wrangle in every inch of air,
their mouths wide open in stupid shock
at what they have just heard every time they hear anything. Venus,
though, blazes with heavy wobbles of albeit frozen
light. Brecht, who I like to call my
brother just as he called Shelley his,
has a short late poem where he sits by a roadside, waiting
while someone changes the wheel on his car,
watching with impatience, despite not liking
either the place that he is coming from or
the place that he is going to. We call it
connectivity when in truth it is just aggression
and imitation writ ever larger. Poems, though,
are forms of infinite and wry but also briskly
impatient patience. Brecht’s poem seems to end,
for instance, almost before you
can read it. It wheels. The goddess is just a big, bright
wilderness but then soon enough she clothes
herself again in the openness of night and I lose her.

Patrick Mackie’s latest collection, The Further Adventures Of The Lives Of The Saints, is published by CB Editions.

This article first appeared in the 18 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Age of Lies

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