Silhouette of leafless tree on hill

Two Poems by Dean Rader

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When They Ask, Tell Them This is a Sonnet for the New Order

The war, like all of us, was once merely a being alone in a field of becoming.
The war (which others call the Universe) is composed of infinite numbers of bodies.
The war, flown by a squadron of birds, is still dropping its wings on our damage.
The war, some believe, is an action. Not so. It is a place. Not so. It is placed. Not so. It is.

The war is the sound of you being born. 
The war does not rely on invisibility but rather on luminescence, gossamer, the always unfolding.
The war the way the day the door the din the win the corps the core the kill the fill the for the for.
The war is here, right here. Look closer to find your face in its glow. See how you shine.

Turn away if you must. You don’t have to look. There. Let me tell you all about the war.
What you want from this life has nothing and yet everything to do with the war.
The truced trees filled with smoke, the stars in helmets of bone, the broken hills still hot with war.
One day, of course, it may stop, but that doesn’t mean the end of the war.

By help I mean assets. By soften I mean bomb. By love I mean cleansed. By save I mean war.
The war begins. The war does begin. The war begins. The end begins. The war begins the war.




after Terrance Hayes

This page. This print. This black. This brown.
This black. This ink. This name. This land.
This mouth / in print. This cry / in the box
and the shadow in flames where I stood. This
fire is not my name, this name is not my box.
How often must a word be said? How dark
must a letter be typed? Typed like that,
like this. This stanza, this color. These tracks. How,
like that / or like the knuckle bone, the tooth.
This mouth. This ink. This ink in the mouth.
This print. This poem in a box, this empty box,
this shoe / that foot / this mouth in a box.
This mouth in a mouth. That foot in the flame.
Typed like a last name, typed like / this body
of ink. How deep must the ink sink? How long
will the touch stain? Blood in the mouth. Blood
on the map. Map of a land. Name in ink. Ink
in the blood. Black in the name. Name in print.
Light in the box / light / in the mouth. Mouth
on the flame. Flame in a box. Box on the mouth.
Mouth on a map. Map over flame. Flame under
skin. Burns on the skin. Burns on the land. Burns
on the map typed like the name on / a box.
Typed like burns on the skin, typed like this.




Dean RaderDean Rader has written, edited, or co-edited eleven books, including Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence, edited with Brian Clements and Alexandra Teague (Beacon Press) and Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon Press), a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award and the Northern California Book Award. He is a professor at the University of San Francisco and the recipient of a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry.
Read Dean Rader’s Letter to America in Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy, published by and Trinity University Press. 
Header photo by Johannes Plenio, courtesy Pixabay. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.