Poem: the listening

I preserve pondering that G-d says he’ll convey the fireplace subsequent time. And I ask, what ought to a poet speak about? The fireplace is meant to be metaphorical. And poets are imagined to fixate on politics and love. Ed Roberson retains making me take into consideration issues really burning. I have no idea anybody who misplaced a house or feared dying as fires blazed in California or Australia. There just isn’t actually a reputation for that ignorance. This poem, although, erases a little bit of it, reminding me of those that can go up in smoke, “prior to any announcement.” What loss does such a actuality require? Selected by Reginald Dwayne Betts

Credit…Illustration by R. O. Blechman

the listening

By Ed Roberson

We all the time suppose we’re
listening from a distance —

however in a state the place the wildfires
transfer eighty-three toes per minute

we would not be quick sufficient
to outdistance occasions

anymore we are able to go up
in a puff previous to any announcement.

Up in smoke
used to imply disappeared
however half the state ineffective although it

is is nonetheless right here
the toxic smoke settling again

to the clean floor
that cataract all of it went over.

Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet and a lawyer. He created the Million Book Project, an initiative to curate microlibraries and set up them in prisons throughout the nation. His newest assortment of poetry, ‘‘Felon,’’ explores the post-incarceration expertise. In 2019, he received a National Magazine Award in Essays and Criticism for his article in The Times Magazine about his journey from teenage carjacker to aspiring lawyer. Ed Roberson is a poet whose works embody ‘‘Asked What Has Changed’’ (Wesleyan University Press, 2021). He has been awarded many honors, together with the 2016 PEN/Voelckner Award for Poetry.