The News

By BRUCE SNIDER

 

Over a hundred men suspected of being gay are being abducted, tortured and even killed in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya…
—CNN

Looking out at the blue sky 
we listen to news 
of men in Chechnya. Touching 
counters, our washrags move like ghosts.
You sweep the kitchen. I tend the cry
of the washing machine, the low roof 
that is our only roof.
We’ve never seen the sky
in Chechnya but imagine it’s a blue cry 
of birds and news
of birds rising like ghosts.
Above us, our neighbors touch
each other, an echo of touch: 
their floor our roof,
their steps a patter of ghosts.
All day we stare out at the sky.
All day we listen to the news.
My shirt, your shirt, cries 
the washing machine. We don’t cry 
but hold hands on the sofa, touch
arm to arm, more news
of men under this one roof.
Still, outside: the blue sky. 
Still, the day brims with ghosts
or what we mistake for ghosts: 
a tremor in the trees, owl-cry. 
We watch the TV’s vast sky,
turn from what we’ll never touch:
the men, the proof.
We change the channel: more news 
to talk about to avoid the news. 
Our faces in the screen now ghosts,
the neighbors make love against our roof, 
its creaking wood a cry 
we hear each time we touch,
together alone beneath this sky.

 

 

Bruce Snider is the author of three poetry collections: Fruit; Paradise, Indiana; and The Year We Studied Women. With the poet Shara Lessley, he is co-editor of The Poem’s Country: Place and Poetic Practice. He teaches at the University of San Francisco.

[Purchase Issue 20 here.]

The News

Related Posts

Palm tree and building at dusk

Monsoon

URVI KUMBHAT
From my window I see a boy shaking the bougainvillea / for flowers. My parents talk of pruning it. They talk / of little else. The tree, spilling wildly past our house into / the gulley—where boys come to smoke or piss.

The Hundertwasser House in Vienna

Etude No. 2 and Etude No. 3

KIM CURTS MATTHEUSSENS
in Rome a monumental marble typewriter / ticked out their story into the sky: two lovers / devour time. she lay on the lawn near Trajan's / column. he plucked letters from her dress, / her hair, served them to her by hand, by mouth.

Image of an intensely green trailhead.

December 2022 Poetry Feature: Kevin McIlvoy

KEVIN McILVOY
On mine spoil. In debris fields / of asphalt and concrete and brick. / Upon sites of chemical spills. / Along lifeless riverbanks. / In clonal groves so hardy you / have to steel yourself for years / of killing to kill one acre. / Where construction crews rake off / the surface