For the Millions

For the Millions

October 28, 2020 5 Comments

Suzanne Lummis's poem "For the Millions" appears in Issue 57: Mend.

________

SUZANNE LUMMIS

For the Millions

Oh Best Beloved, now it’s me
who can’t sleep, my brain too jammed
with bits, most of them sounding
out cries—animals,
the farmed and the wild ones, the hunts
and the hungers, coyotes—sinew
and bone—stalking the nighttime
streets of Northeast L.A., searching 
for cats.  
And some troubles overseas—
all seven—disturbances in the governing
bodies. I hear them like troubled
stomachs roiling
their devouring acids. I’m sorry,
Beloved, but I do!  And no one,
nothing out there, can I save, not
Valerie Reyes, 24, bookstore clerk
and “bookworm,” prone to “attacks
of anxiety,” like the one when she called
from her basement flat in a borough
of New York where she lived alone,
called her mother, shaking and crying,
engulfed with terror—she couldn’t
say why. For a while,
she wasn’t seen around after that,
then she was, on the side 
of an empty road, when a guy
driving for The Public Works stopped
to open a large suitcase.  
Oh Best Beloved, a poem can’t pull
anyone back from death
into life, but it can pull the dead
into a poem. Maybe she’ll be safe
here, that stranger, that friend—I mean,
not her, exactly, but her name. It will lie
in the lines of the poem, comforted,
calmed. Maybe
                              it will sleep.    

 

 

 

________

Suzanne Lummis was a 2018/19 COLA (City of Los Angeles) fellow, an endowment from Cultural Affairs to influential artists and writers to enable them to create new bodies of work. She presented her politically engaged mega-poem, Tweets from Hell (the stanzas composed within Twitter windows) at Grand Performances in downtown LA and at a gala night at Beyond Baroque. Poetry.la produces her YouTube series, They Write by Night, which explores film noir and poets influenced by that style and sensibility. Her poetry has appeared in PloughsharesHotel AmerikaThe Antioch ReviewNew Ohio ReviewPlume, and The New Yorker. She is the editor of the Pacific Coast Poetry Series, an imprint of Beyond Baroque Books.



5 Responses

Natalie Marino
Natalie Marino

November 03, 2020

Beautiful work. I especially like “ pull the dead into a poem.”

Daniella Cressman
Daniella Cressman

November 03, 2020

Beautiful!

Lisbeth Coiman
Lisbeth Coiman

October 29, 2020

Beautiful. Honoring one who died too soon, giving her a peaceful rest.

Tess adams
Tess adams

October 29, 2020

What a wonderful poem, I love the way it keeps the dead alive within it.

Mary Fitzpatrick
Mary Fitzpatrick

October 28, 2020

Bravo, Suzanne Lummis! A place of rest for Valerie Reyes. Now, one for the animals….

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