Sunday, March 13, 2011

Peter Balakian: Watching the Towers Go Down

Click to hear Peter Balakian reading his poem.

-- from "A-Train/Ziggurat/Elegy"

Who is the other who
floats between what you see

and what is there:
think of the other going silent,

screen fuzz smoke,
hours away on TV.

Came as dumb smoke

into my house.
The jade plant leaves,

tongue of the cat,
pan on the stove,

the cardamom and clove
moved in their currents.

Outside the sky was searing blue
honeysuckle wafting through.

There was nowhere to go.
Sat down. Got up.

Stared at the iBook.
Walked around.

No phone service.
The cell's dead too.

Peter Balakian is the author of many books, including a new volume of poems, "Ziggurat," just published by University of Chicago Press, and "June-tree: New and Selected Poems, 1974-2000." His memoir, "Black Dog of Fate," won the PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir. Balakian's "The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response" won the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book and a New York Times Best Seller. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship and is a professor of the humanities at Colgate.

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