Jan Clausen

The Wave That Is the Motion of the World


                  I. A Little North of Lynchburg

                  zest of crispest days
life finely articulated
leaf-sharp in the thicket
under bluest skies
                                                      /light blue damselflies
like skinny tinker toys
or odd segmented buses
mating midair

            "It is precisely because one does not want to lose one's status as a viable
            speaking being that one does not say what one thinks."

That red track looped
with lariat offhand grace
over green field and hill-brow

not far from
towering tree forms
enveloped in kudzu burkas

The surge
of what
took place

These sunken patches in the grass are where
a captive people laid their grief in dirt
mute broken stones for markers
swept memory

all knowledge of letters
being forbidden by law
to slaves in the state of Virginia

                  II. The Wave Is the World Now. Is the Braying Air

Three horses now
after so many
days of two


         Maybe I keep writing
         it over and over and over
         not only because I am
         obsessive and because I
         am obsessed and because
         I don't want to capture
         it and can't bear to leave
         it behind and won't let go
         the gripping fantasy
         of words as corresponding
         to the storm surge of
         the real


                        because that is the
         motion of murdering
         the whole: the repetition:
         with variations


More horse legs
going by
green corner
of window

                  III. Seen from the Train Connecting South and Home

And here is my city:
flashing: hived and active:

that it's leaving
slavery behind

some rainbow
over the wastepits
just before Newark

from the kudzu

Here's my letter of appointment
to the faculty
of disasters

             "It is precisely because one does not want to lose one's status as a viable
             speaking being that one does not say...."

I think it's
the war wave

it's the slave wave


Because language
cannot change it

and also
for other reasons

it proceeds
as is

                  Before and after Hurricane Sandy, September-November, 2012

NOTE: "It is precisely because one does not want to lose one's status as a viable speaking being that one does not say what one thinks." From Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence by Judith Butler.

Jan Clausen

Jan Clausen’s books include novels, a memoir, and six volumes of poetry. Veiled Spill: A Sequence has just been published by GenPop Books. Her two previous poetry collections, From a Glass House (IKON) and If You Like Difficulty (Harbor Mountain Press), came out in 2007.  Individual poems have appeared in AGNI, Bloom, esque, Fence, The Hat, Hotel Amerika, Ploughshares, and the anthologies Obsession: Sestinas in the 21st Century and Poems from the Women's Movement. The recipient of writing grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and NYFA, Clausen teaches at NYU and in the Goddard College MFA in Writing Program.