(early) Poem of the Week, by Grant Clauser

It was surprisingly easy to get, someone who never should have been able to buy a gun once mused to me, a sentence that still turns my body to ice.

Last week at a Moth live show I sat in the front row the way I always do and watched warily as one of the storytellers brought a prop concealed in a plastic bag on stage. I turned to the stranger next to me and said I hope that’s not a gun in there, and then looked around to plot my exit routes. Should I crouch and scuttle or run in a zig zag?

We cover sockets with plastic caps, put car seats in cars, buckle our seatbelts, put locks on cabinets, stop signs at corners, add a rotten egg stink to odorless gas. We keep ourselves safer in common sense ways. We can do the same with guns. Mass violence is inevitable only if we shrug and say it is. Mass violence is acceptable only if we shrug and say it is. We are helpless only if we give up. So don’t give up. Take action. Here is one of my favorite organizations.

J35, by Grant Clauser
For two weeks
a killer whale
pushed its dead calf
around the ocean,
diving to the cold darkness
each time the desiccating baby
sank to the bottom.
She cradled her offspring
in her dangerous mouth,
raised the stillborn
back to the surface
to make sure its collapsed blowhole
could reach the air.

What if mythology
got it wrong about Sisyphus?
The rock not punishment
from the gods, but the weight
of regret falling
back on him,
grief rolling over
him each night
as he tried to quiet
the nightmares,
then woke again
to push it as far
up the mountain
as his shoulders could take.

Finally the whale-watchers
said it was over,
the body too decomposed
and eaten by fish
for the mother to keep
carrying, and the ocean
eventually separated them
by wave and storm,
the orca rejoined its pod
to follow the salmon,
something to focus on
while moving forward

Click here for more information about Grant Clauser.


Words by Winter: my podcast

One comment

  1. Marion Dane Bauer · May 26, 2022

    This one makes my heart dissolve, Alison!


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