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

House in Colombia

Translation: “The House” by José Ardila

JOSÉ ARDILA
I don’t like talking about those distant times when the house was not so tiny. The memory stirs in me of striding around its endless expanses, and it seems so strange that, to keep my anger at bay, I prefer to believe we’re simply experiencing the aftertaste of a beautiful dream.

Mesquite plant

July 2021 Poetry Feature: Burlin Barr

BURLIN BARR
but the wolf tree was there and there was a place where // trophies hung: entire / bodies slung there in semi permanence // turning into everything / imaginable between a fresh body and shit and a variety // of trash; except Otis; he kept his right in front / of the house even

Writers on Writing: Rowan Beaird

ROWAN BEAIRD
When someone’s addressing someone else, it’s fine for there to be massive leaps in time, because you know what’s driving it is not a classic, linear narrative, but the narrative that exists between two people.