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Jane Satterfield
Poems

About the Poet

Jane Satterfield is the author of Her Familiars (Elixir Press, 2013), and two previous poetry collections: Assignation at Vanishing Point and Shepherdess with an Automatic, as well as Daughters of Empire:  A Memoir of a Year in Britain and Beyond.

Her awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry, the Mslexia women’s poetry prize, and the 49th Parallel Poetry Prize from The Bellingham Review.

 


Spring 2015 Poems ~
On Not Buying Vintage Oil T-Shirts at Old Navy

I.

In the absence of severe alerts, we drove through the clearing
streets, past yards strewn

with storm debris, here and there dodging
a downed power line

to see where we might save a few cents at the pump.
We might well consider

this week’s body count, the sorrow sustained in our announcer’s
stern face or the one tune

from the man at the top: we must find alternatives to fossil fuel,
same static we’ve been hearing

as long as we’ve been listening.


II.
 


While shopping I was drawn to the discount table of vintage-style
tees, coveting the muted colors,

and old fashioned oil company logos, signposts of stations—
Texaco, Gulf, Esso, Sinclair—

seen from the back seat of Buicks, Grand Torinos, those gas-guzzling
family cars where we bounced along,

sans seat belts, watching the world going by. Today a corps of
engineers struggles with a containment

cap. With the right app I could click as I shop, access
the list of federal

Agencies involved in response to the gallons hemorrhaged
By a dynamically positioned





Semi-submersible rig. Noise cannons keep birds from landing
In contaminated areas.

Apocalypse and empire— . We might wade out into silence.
And if later I somehow ease

into sleep, will I wake as I did more than a decade ago,
from the dream of rigs

burning a smoke script across the whirling desert sky?

 

~

Sonnet at the Edge of the Precipice

Say you’ve stood awhile at the gates,
what would be the remedy for this place
—This penitent gesture of hands
open on infinite space?
A million papery lantern leaves erased—
Angular, shriven, cast down,
the expression snuffed on a face frozen
at the evacuation of starlight, everything vined
over as morning glories inherit the hedge….
 
Say we’ve stood together at the edge—
Iron spikes, implacable gates, the reservoir’s
surface below not so much like a photofinish
yet gleaming, still, coarse-grained, mercurial….
 
The clouds collusive, we’re driven to our fates.

 

~

from Migrant Universe
based on a series of paintings by Tanja Softic

tanjasoftic.com/migrant-universe

 

Revolution

The dead hand of history tells the beads of time . . . Forcible and overthrow; gruesome but necessary. . . Here at the storied crossroads ordinary members of the public, hooligans, arsonists, rioters, serial killers . . . borrowed costumes and battle cries :: bunkers, barbed wire, the bronze heroes along the boulevard . . . When I left there was no time to look back—demonstrations, disruptions, speeches, and ceremonies . . . the pigeon park, the shopping plazas, the shelling at close range. If the old songs were onto something, need we say it was good? The beads of time tell. Orbit, circular course or try this: Late Latin, meaning rollback, wide-reaching change. An anchor, a star map—wreaths and garlands as once more the rain relaxes its guard.

~

The Map of What Happened

Searches arrests and attacks injuries to bystanders—the specter of arbitrary detention, of road blockades. . . So the storyteller picks her way . . . The soul may well recoil at the bomb-gutted station, the houses laid open to the elements still bearing within their rubble outlandish bits and pieces of what had once been security . . . Areas of interest, archipelagos of safety, and overhead—the rook or the raven. More than one makes an unkindness, a murder if you’re speaking of crows. Situational awareness might mean many things: adherence to mission, intelligence in enemy terrain, which weather, which troops, other support available. Do tram lines or thoughts account for these dense tracings, are they dendrites or air traffic patterns? Injurious and purifying—this flame. Lost among them all I needed was the name of a small ridge, a local custom, a cell of this historical animal—the map of the world, my sojourn and other shadings of memory: let them burn me clear of attachment.

 

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Jane Satterfield ~

 

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