Letter to America: Poem by Sandra Meek

Letter to America by Sandra Meek

One Poem

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Asphalt slag: Say a’a lava. A yard’s
dank swamp: Say pampas, a sawgrass marsh.

A man at stalk: Glad a man’s
at watch. A match’s spark: What warms

all dark. Tall grass. A vacant shack.
A gnat-clad lamp’s ash star: Aghast, say

at Mass, an all-day’s pray at an altar, far
away. An alarm call, a fatal

flaw: A gaff. A lark. A gag.
A gag—a bandana’s wad: Say what balms

a gasp. A car’s crank, gas, a way
away—a latch that stays.

A frat-chant, tap that ass: A psalm’s
mantra, a ballad’s

track. A lay? A bang? Say that flat—
a gang’s attack: A tramp

that asks. Law’s task, a warrant’s
ask: A grasp

at straws—stall a man’s start?
A slap: A pat. Claw marks: A back

scratch—talk, charm; a thrash,
that’s all. An arm’s

want’s wand, harm’s arc
at bay—say what was,

wasn’t. Scars, flashbacks, stats
that swarm, sad math: Say blank

and blank=blanks. Say abstract art
what chalk-drawn lays: Say

what’ll wash away.




Sandra MeekSandra Meek is the author of five books of poems, most recently An Ecology of Elsewhere (Persea Books, 2016), Road Scatter (Persea Books, 2012), and Biogeography, winner of the Dorset Prize (Tupelo Press, 2008). Her sixth, Still, is forthcoming from Persea Books in 2020. She is also the editor of an anthology, Deep Travel: Contemporary American Poets Abroad (Ninebark 2007). A recipient of a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and the 2015 Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, she has three times been awarded Georgia Author of the Year in Poetry and twice the Peace Corps Writers Award in Poetry. She is a co-founding editor of Ninebark Press, director of the Georgia Poetry Circuit, poetry editor of the Phi Kappa Phi Forum, and Dana Professor of English, Rhetoric, and Writing at Berry College. Visit her at www.sandrameek.com.
Read poetry by Sandra Meek appearing in Terrain.org: two poems and one poem.

Header photo by Kayo, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Sandra Meek by Paul O’Mara.

  1. Dear Readers, Sandra Meek posted this note on her Facebook page today as Brett Kavanaugh was being confirmed:

    I was 16 when I was sexually assaulted. I do not remember the month, whether it was summer, or whether there was a foot of snow on the ground. But I cannot not remember coming to, choking. I could not drive you to the spot where this happened in my hometown, but I will never forget the taste of him, the smell of him, what he said to me that helped cement my teenage mind’s belief that it was my fault. That I should say nothing. And for years, I didn’t.
    I know I am one of so many who have relived their own assaults these past weeks as we collectively endure the rhetoric of denial and victim-shaming surrounding the Kavanaugh nomination.
    So I am beyond grateful to Simmons Buntin and Derek Sheffield at Terrain.org for publishing in their Letter to America series today this poem which speaks to and from this moment we are enduring. This poem is especially for everyone who feels unheard, for everyone who has had their own pain dismissed, for everyone who still keeps to silence to avoid a second and public attack.
    I hope you might read and/or listen, and share if you feel so inclined. Love to you all.

  2. Thank you for this poem. Strikes to the core. Hard not to feel shame to live in this land of male a culpa male a culpa male a maxima culpa. Where to turn when rage is not enough. Kudos to poet and t.org folks for this.

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