Poem of the day- Take 2

I subscribe to the Poetry Foundation’s “Poem a Day” email. I enjoy this routine because I’m always hungry to read more poetry, and having one shoved directly under my nose everyday is quite convenient. Otherwise, I would just get stuck in one book of poetry for weeks and weeks, and rationalize that with the “lack of time” disclaimer that stops us all from reading (and writing!) all the time.

Needless to say, I have time for one measly poem a day. Come on self, I can do this.

I received this poem on Saturday. I really like it, though I can’t always get on board with blatant political poetry. But my reaction to it interested me. It made me uncomfortable because of the level of honesty and relevance that it has in our society in terms of freedom– speech, marriage, religious beliefs, etc. — and because of the sharp note it hits on our current state of world events.

Also, I related to it. I am the person who laughs and tells people I love them when conflicting opinions (especially political) arise.

I posted this on my Facebook, and it wasn’t received well. I chickened out and deleted the post. So basically, in an unintentional social experiment, my defeat and fear to offend proved one of the points of this poem.

BUT… I still would like to share it. That’s what blogging is for right?

I was also curious about the writer. At one point in her career she taught incarcerated students. She writes a lot of probing things on being American. I have yet to read her other works, but I’m interested.

Poem of the Day: Three a.m.

BY JILL MCDONOUGH
Our cabdriver tells us how Somalia is better
than here because in Islam we execute murderers.
So, fewer murders. But isn’t there civil war
there now? Aren’t there a lot of murders?
Yes, but in general it’s better. Not
now, but most of the time. He tells us about how
smart the system is, how it’s hard to bear
false witness. We nod. We’re learning a lot.
I say—once we are close to the house—I say, What
about us? Two women, married to each other.
Don’t be offended, he says, gravely. But a man
with a man, a woman with a woman: it would be
a public execution. We nod. A little silence along
the Southeast Corridor. Then I say, Yeah,
I love my country. This makes him laugh; we all laugh.
We aren’t offended, says Josey. We love you. Sometimes
I feel like we’re proselytizing, spreading the Word of Gay.
The cab is shaking with laughter, the poor man
relieved we’re not mad he sort of wants us dead.
The two of us soothing him, wanting him comfortable,
wanting him to laugh. We love our country,
we tell him. And Josey tips him. She tips him well.
Jill McDonough, “Three a.m.” from Where You Live. Copyright © 2012 by Jill McDonough.
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