“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

Were There More Time

Play
Pause

And less infestations

I might continue to go

Through the alphabet again

Call my misreading my mis-prison

At the trial you were the one who said
I read Jewish

You know, it’s usually not one person
Who gets to decide what is centered

Her marrying into the Hurt family
Is not the same as who hurt this family

For me, it’s not until lots of people
Start texting me about it

If you think the rhyme scheme
Or pattern is something, that’s because

This is a kind of pantoum, it is already
Making graves
From a vocabulary of

If the therapy sessions
Have nothing to do
With the

When each broken sentence
Describes more than an image, like Rivers
I was easy for them to name

When I was a child I was easily
Identified among the others–

Even before I knew there were poems, I knew I’d be late
For revision. I never liked the workshop

When we were doing it. I am still trying
To get over my anger, I know

If I can make my enemy laugh
He cannot bludgeon me. Yes,

He can describe a gentler Holocaust
Than I might. Accept an apology

Even if you wait too many years
Throw the Russian articles out
Hear war at every shore

When an image has a little problem
I’ll resist naming
The turn like the final son
Rereading this line instead

The hinges have been known

Play
Pause

To break the histograms

If either war or worry

Looking one way we see
A face, but the other
And it’s a vase
Never with flowers

Not a sequence of metaphors
About the circuit
But a machine that keeps busy
Focusing on the part of the eye
That is not an eye

Sum of fallers I didn’t draw on
The warrior’s response for

The sides are already taken
The doorway is already cold

I’d wound the weary traveler
Up in mother’s weavings

Worried the woodpecker would
Find harm in every choice

If you participate

Play
Pause

In relationships

If you forgot
The rules

If the institution
Is an agenda itself

If an obstacle
Divides us into us

If you find trees
Inside the book

If the end in itself
Needs a library in house

If enemy land owner
remind me to relax

If listing rules is not a document
no poet will trouble

If you do not know your field
You are not in the field

If no family is expected
to write a poem

If a quiet nursery will never have
a baby, but there is a baby

If readers are a badland
the very bad train arrives still

If we are giving up
stop, no actually, more go

If it’s an actual fire
the army passes the neighbor by

If the compromise is a plan
to punish

If losing
don’t request your privileged accommodations

If a monument
can’t be called visible, a sword

If the work starts
not being like habit

If truly you think it would help
I’ll stop the role-assigning

Appears in this issue
Michelle Taransky’s chapbook Abramowitz to Grossberg was published by Factory Hollow Press in 2020. She is the author of the books Barn Burned, Then and Sorry Was In the Woods.

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