What Ridiculous Things We Could Ask of Each Other

The poems in “What Ridiculous Things We Could Ask of Each Other” comb through the rubble of everyday life in search of the shards of beauty and hope that might still be found there. At the same time, these poems struggle to conceive of the beautiful and the hopeful in some way that can escape the purely naive. They confront loss and wrong, but because Elegy / is stupid, if you can avoid it, they seek, so much as is possible, not to offer consolation in exchange for what ought not to have happened in the first place. If making the world right with itself would be simultaneously the simplest and the most difficult thing, these poems try to imagine the moment right before that change would become possible and try to imagine the questions we d be confronted with then, in hope of opening the possibility of imagining the answers.”

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Selected by

Kevin Young


He’d been a tourist in churches, there for a look at the glass
and a half-hearted pang of the sublime beneath vaulted ceilings.

But there was always the flickering silhouette of some woman
who prayed over a candle she’d lit; then the guilt

Of the faithless would usher him out to afternoon’s heat-
dazzled streets. After the corner store’s worn linoleum

And sick pack, he wondered if he could feel anything holy
given years of the nightly news’s nightly war, given

His wife’s retelling of her days working with abused
and molested children. So when he came across these

Beautiful, deadly coils risen up toward heaven and the power
lines that converged in a perfect cage to hold it back,

He couldn’t explain the current that ran through him,
except to say the hum of it, the substation’s carcinogenic

Psalm, seemed to cycle at the same rate as the soul,
which stirred slightly from its hibernation

In the unpainted apse at the back of its hermetic cell.