Over-baked news. Burned meat.
Just a bite and the char
will stick to your teeth for days.
Everyone knows best. The wisdom
slithers up from behind the pale glow
of laptop lamp light. Smart phone smarties
professing the secrets of the universe
that neither they nor you nor I
know anything about.
And still, Shireen Abu Akleh
shot for covering a military operation.
Crossfire sounded innocent enough
until they beat the mourners who carried her casket. Those who pass between fleeting words
will discover less and less of the world
with selfie stick blazed high
like the torch of knowledge.
Blackened tongue, crisp flesh
between clenched teeth. We devour ourselves
with catered social media news updates.
In Mexico, Yesenia Mollinedo Falconi
and Sheila Johana García Olivera, two of many.
In 2018 in the US, Gerald Fischman, John McNamara,
Rob Hiaasen, and Wendi Winters,
all journalists at the Capital Gazette.
The memories of memory.
Take your names with you and go.
No one reads the paper anymore
while Twitter experts chirp
in 280 characters or less.
Shooting a journalist—almost
as pointless as shooting a poet.
You can all fuck off,
said the trees
to thee peoples.
Yes, fuck off, indeed,
the coral said
before bleaching scleral white
under miles of microplastic guppies
in a microplastic sea
on a microplastic planet
that will one day soon
burn off thee
that invented thee plastic
in the first place.
Fuck off, from the bumble bees,
polar bears, bats. An endless
spiraling chorus of fuck off,
fuck off, fuck off
from a list of species
that have been clearcut
from their habitats,
—for Osip Mandelstam
the blunt edge of a memory
that awakes to itself
again and again.
of frostbitten flesh skip
across the Black Sea
and sink like tossed pebbles,
lost wishes, a sea burial of history’s
regard for human dignity.
War. Money. Land. Empire.
Even through the soup
of selfish prayers
drooling from blood-filled
mouths, we can still hear you
Rodger LeGrand is a Pushcart nominated poet and the author of several collections of poetry, including Studies for a Self-Portrait(Big Table 2019) and Two Thirds Water (Flutter Press 2018). His poems have appeared in many literary journals, including Evening Street Review, The Cortland Review, and the Boston Literary Magazine. He has taught writing at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, he designs humanitarian education courses for the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative at Harvard University. You can reach him at www.rodgerlegrand.com.