First Writing After the IDF Attacked Gaza 2015: Machal by Sam Sax

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


Ancient
i know, the ragged
Edge of reason
Like some volunteer soldier
Took a serrated blade
To a simple idea
& now your left with
& now you’re left
& now, tell us children
Of israel we deserve
Better & we do.
We who carry stone
Tables on our backs
Through the desert
& debate the nature of diaspora.
Who wants a homeland
If it’s someone else’s
House? who waters ashes
Calls it garden? who salts
The wound to taste?
Tell all the delicate light
There’s no room
For you here,
This sibilant of bombs
& bombardment,
This television filled
With divided children,
This doggerel halting
Car exploding into old
Testament roses,
This special column of rope,
This retching fever
& spleen leaking dark
Theatres into the stomach,
This people tortured
Into everyone else’s music.

Tell all my brothers
Who delight in rifles & religion
They are my brothers
No more.

What’s a poem to do
With herself, but shake
All the wet branches?
How to write
Right into the horror
Light of war? how not to?

The old poets
Are all gathering clams
On the eastern seaboard
& laughing
About the nature
Of language

One holds a salt
Water mollusk up
& loves
That from where
He stands it blots
Out the whole sun.


Photo by B. A. Van Sise

Photo by B. A. Van Sise

sam sax is the author of Madness (Penguin, 2017) winner of The National Poetry Series selected by Terrance Hayes. His second book, Bury It, will be out on Wesleyan University Press in 2018. He’s received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary and The Michener Center, where he served as the Editor-in-chief of Bat City Review. He’s the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion and author of four chapbooks. Winner of the 2016 Iowa Review Award, his poems are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, Poetry Magazine and other journals.