Suzanne Lummis's poem "For the Millions" appears in Issue 57: Mend.
For the Millions
Oh Best Beloved, now it’s me
who can’t sleep, my brain too jammed
with bits, most of them sounding
the farmed and the wild ones, the hunts
and the hungers, coyotes—sinew
and bone—stalking the nighttime
streets of Northeast L.A., searching
And some troubles overseas—
all seven—disturbances in the governing
bodies. I hear them like troubled
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,
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 Ploughshares, Hotel Amerika, The Antioch Review, New Ohio Review, Plume, and The New Yorker. She is the editor of the Pacific Coast Poetry Series, an imprint of Beyond Baroque Books.
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