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Friday, July 09, 2010


by Elizabeth Swados

Obama you will not be able to untie
these knots so fast
You haven’t been on a ship like this before
with a multitude of yellowing sails
and ropes hard as rocks grabbing onto each other,
sails too too heavy to fly, too
grounded to take off with the crows.
Take your time, mister, as we all must
take our time.

You can’t use a scissors—if you
cut the wrong rope the whole architecture
of this rocking vessel could crack one plank
at a time until we are nothing
but splinters.
Take your time. No machetes.
No hacking away
at blackened twine
pulled so tight
you could pluck it and
the note would come out as
dirty music.

Find the softer spot. Push it oh so gently
back and forth back and forth
pull oh so gently at the loop that has suddenly come free
but pull oh so gently so you don’t disturb the
balance of the mast. Go slowly. Go with caution.

You haven’t been on a ship like this before.
No one has.

Elizabeth Swados is an award winning author and composer; she is a Tony nominated, Obie award winning theater artist, Guggenheim and Ford Foundation recipient, as well as a Pen/Faulkner citation. Her latest book, At Play – Teaching Teenagers Theater, was published by Faber and Faber. Her other recent publications include: My Depression (Hyperion), and The Animal Rescue Store (Scholastic).  Her theatrical credits span from Broadway, to off-Broadway, to around the world including Runaways, Missionaries, and Jabu.  Her poetry has appeared in magazines such as Meridian Anthology, New American Writing, New York Quarterly, Emory's Journal, Confrontation, Paterson Literary Review, Speakeasy, Barrow Street, Runes and Home Planet. Her first book of poetry, The One and Only Human Galaxy, was released in April 2009.