Jan Clausen
POETICS
 
Sonnet in Camo


1. thinking I saw a prayer shawl in the park but it was some guy in an African-type cape
2. receiving tidings of planets that whiz around their suns in under 24 hours
3. diversion from my horoscope, which reads: race clusters and clumps in your vicinity this week
4. as “Ask Me Now” plays behind some Nut with a Nuke and
5. a hot October waves oblivious roses at
6. the small blast or failed blast or chemical fakery or flagrant violation grave breach
7. when rape is the answer, what is the quagmire
8. that ignores the felt need to differentiate one’s idiom from the next guy’s
9. ...to visit a friend of mine in North Carolina. She lives on a base. It’s really weird down there. Well for one thing all these people wearing camouflage, just walking around like that. Lots of open space and trees. Everything really clean. Their apartment looks out on a lake. Good stuff. They even have a terrace. You really see how the government takes care of people. Her husband came back from Iraq while we were there. Shows up at the door. She had no idea he was coming. I didn’t ask how long did he have, was this a quick break or what. He just shows up—I’m home! She could have been in the middle of anything. I mean, she cuts hair. But the military’s been a good choice for him. Got him off the streets. For people like that, people without an education, lots of times it’s the only way. He’s a sergeant, so he has responsibility for eleven other guys. He doesn’t agree with the war, I can tell you that much. But somebody’s got to keep the peace over there. I didn’t know what to say to him so I just said, I can’t imagine all the things you must have seen, the difficult situations, but I want to say a really humongous thanks for the sacrifice you’re making on behalf of all of us. Remember when the soldiers came home from Vietnam and nobody even thanked them? This guy I knew was in a cab and says, “I just got back from there,” and somebody goes, “so what?”
10. Democratic Party strategists quickly circulated a “talking points” memorandum to Democratic candidates, urging them to cast the reported North Korean nuclear test as a “colossal foreign policy failure of the Bush administration.”
11. whether to take a pickaxe? or a thumbscrew? (to language)
12. I couldn’t bash in a nutshell the heartrending sack of Constantinople in 1204
13. but guess I could learn, from one of my students, even, to place two women in a room and just go from there
14. humming she so white she don’t believe in god

NOTE: The italicized sentence following numeral 10 is a quotation from The New York Times 10/10/06, “Bush Rebukes North Korea, and U.S. Seeks New U.N. Sanctions.”


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