Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Find: Weapons Grade by Terese Svoboda

Weapons Grade by Terese Svoboda

From Publishers Weekly

Svoboda's fifth collection of poems walks the borders where the personal and the political meet, and where ironic humor and foreboding overlap. Her contemporary America is both finger-licking digital, and a place where there are soldiers in mother's hair. In this book's first section, war is everywhere, from a lab in Tokyo where AIDS-infected blood was used for transfusions to the cavities of your body. Section two takes up notions of mistranslations, misunderstandings and missed opportunities: in one poem, a man walks into a bar; in another a son asks of a missing father, Is he back or forth? The final section takes up more personal subjects, as in a poem titled To My Brother, on the Occasion of His Second Breakdown. Throughout, Svoboda's poems are as haunting as they are funny, as pleasurable as they are powerful.

The following two poems have been taken from

Whale Watch

Big wheelers circle in the sand
to cut a perfect something
between flotsam and carwreck.

The kids see only the size of the tires,

none look at the whales over their shoulders.

We're climbing to where spouts evaporate
into sky, we're clawing up lava-spilt sides
like the dog to see.

Below is all
perfect circles in the sand,
and the discolored blue from mammals working.

The ocean's boundless, we think,
and the kids
can't even throw rocks far enough
to hit us.
But no.

The dog barks at the whales
instead of them, then he barks even harder—
at Jonah inside the whale
drawing Pinocchio

on undigested sand dollars,

what can only be imagined.

Even here you have to turn your head
to see all of one, you have to step back and not fall.

At last the teenagers get out of the trucks
to puke.
The kids elbow us to look.


My bike floats on a road
without a moon or light, all balance.

I open my mouth, O sole mio
but I fear I will fall

into my voice, it could be
the road, dippy and

suddenly ending.
So no sound comes out.

I just pedal, well, I breathe but—
A friend bikes out of the black.

I heard you and I hurried.
What did I sing? Our wheels

whine forward. We can't even see
the grass brushing our calves.

Soon the road narrows
and a creek cuts one side,

you can hear water
on its own path, and surely

there's a ditch—surely. We bike in file,
hunched, bearing the dark. If we slow—

A car comes up behind us,
lights off. We pedal hard, harder.

The car comes on anyway,
it is coming. Before its grill heat

signals where,
there's a terrible crash,

the late pop
of an airbag, there's the ditch

and the grass, we weave and—
There's no sound after, just a metal

something rolling.
We kickstand our bikes in the dark.

No O my god. Just What?
What? my friend, gasping.

We run back.
Someone drove that car.

If we search for it apart, we're lost,
but together, we're doubly blind.

We touch and touch.
The sharp grass, the flitter of insects,

the uneven earth underfoot—
We want not to find

anything. It is the future
we move toward,

and Death says
we will find it,

both of us, and the road
we followed,

the road the car left,
is gone.


Linda Jacobs said...

Holy cow! These are amazing! I'm definitely going to look into this author!