Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Poem of the Week: Scott Hightower

Rubber Dollie

........The only permanent thing is the soul,

..........and what has happened to it.

.......................-Patrick Kavanagh

Like a dancer covered in nothing

but white powder, then sponged

with course brown makeup;

nothing else in plain sight

but silver anklets; arms
extended to take

the tribute of a guard's embrace.
We are watching from behind;

though, there are no flowers,
no curtain. And it's not a ballet.

It's a macabre charade,
one night in the secret

theater of Abu Ghraib.
The anklets are shackles.

In another, a leashed
dog-loud, black,

and snarling--takes
center stage. And, in others,

real men, looking like oddly
manipulated Kachina dolls

or naked degraded marionettes
in medieval hoods--

their elbows akimbo--
are paraded, strung erect,

wired, collapsed;
are stacked into a pile.

"Save us
from noisy oblivion;

from despair. Save us,
one by one,

from Roman cruelty;
from death

by water;
from death

by fire. Save us
from being eaten alive."

-Scott Hightower

Used by permission.

*This poem was first published in I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights (Lost Horse Press), edited by Melissa Kwasny and M.L Smoker.

Scott Hightower's third collection of poems, Part of the Bargain, received the 2004 Hayden Carruth Award. His translations from Spanish poetry have garnered a Willis Barnstone Translation Prize. Besides NYU, he has taught at Drew University, F.I.T., Fordham, and Poets House. He contributes book reviews to Fogged Clarity and The Brooklyn Rail and is a contributing editor to The Journal. A native of central Texas, Hightower lives in New York City and sojourns in Spain.

Hightower was on the panel The Poet As Historian in the 21st Century: A Rare Opportunity in Difficult Times at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

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