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Monday, July 12, 2021


by Margaret Rozga

Cartoon by Steve Sack, Star Tribune, July 7, 2021

I should be able to write a poem
about Afghani interpreters being given asylum
or rather not being given asylum, being dangled
the delicate hope of asylum for whatever that is worth.
Asylum acquired narrow connotations
as in insane asylum, not a refuge
but a silencing, an abandoning.
I should be able to write
with the insistent beat of a heart on fire,
the passion of Whitman’s barbaric yelp,
the precision of an accountant
totaling the debt to be repaid.
Airlift Afghani allies to the Field Station
where I write of black-eyed susans
counting their thirteen brilliant petals
flower after flower, utterly dependable.
We should. I should. What is power for?
What are words for?
If they do not set deeds in motion,
if they do not celebrate good,
if they do not open up space,
if they allow moral failure
if they do not uncover names
of the unnamed who throw up
obstacles to justice,
be forever silent.

As 2019-2020 Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Margaret Rozga co-edited the anthology Through This Door: Wisconsin in Poems (Art Night Books, 2020) and the chapbook anthology On the Front Lines / Behind the Lines (pitymilkpress, 2021). Her fifth book of poems is Holding My Selves Together: New and Selected Poems (Cornerstone Press, 2021).