A Poem By Mary Jo Bang

The Storm We Call Progress

Strum and concept, drum and bitterness, the dog
of history keeps being blown into the present—
her back to the future, her last supper simply becoming
the bowels’ dissolving memory in a heap before her.
A child pats her back and drones there-there
while under her lifted skirt is a perfect today
where a cult of ghost-lovers predicts a rapture
but instead remains to inherit varicose veins,
rubber knickers, douches with bulbs, douches with bags,
girdles in a choice of pink, red or white,
and in rubber, silk or twilled linen, enemas, clysters, oils
balms, and other Benjamin etceteras burrowing
like scabies into the brain’s ear as it listens to the click
of the next second coming to an end.

the senseless waste of reaching up to pull down
a machine-made device from the rafters, a beatific
mythical magical deity. Sturm und drang, storm
and stress, turbulence and urge, turmoil and ferment.
A revolution goes right, then wrong. The right falls
in love with an icon. They force the landscape into a box.
They lock the box with the key inside. The aristocracy
is an improbable agent of change. Whispering
is no longer saying out loud, the all-seeing god a brother
grown bigger by another name.
Adv. sadly
He stared sadly at the ruins of his house. traurig
Er starrte traurig auf die Ruinen seines Hauses. Sadly

Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Dante’s Inferno recently appeared in paperback. Her seventh collection of poems, The Last Two Seconds, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2015.

You will find more poems here. You may contact the editor at poems@theawl.com.