thomas lux | the utopian wars

19 06 2008

Poetry Dispatch No.243 | June 18, 2008


Amish raiding party attacks a Quaker
settlement at Muddy Crossing,
killing first the Quaker ferryman
(who is drunk, and never awakes until midstream
to find an Amish man tying an anvil to his neck)
before reaching the village
and killing dozens, quietly at first, by blade
and hatchet (hoping to blame the savages), and
burning nothing
as they work their way toward the center of
town. Kill on the way in, bum
on the way out. In the hills, meanwhile,
the Buddhists quick-change from bright orange
to camo robes, point their howitzers eastward
where they know the Episcopalians
milk cobras
to tip their arrows
and fill their bullets’ hollow-points.
The Baha’i sit back and sharpen their knives and
The wily Mennonites withdraw,
their leaders meeting for three days
in upstate New York,
while at the same time the few remaining Jains
turn their cheeks
to reveal slashed and bloody jaws
from the last time \
they turned their cheeks.

from: HARPER’S MAGAZINE / MAY 2008. Originally printed in the March/April issue of The American Poetry Review. Lux’s collection God Particles is out from Houghton Mifflin.

Thomas Lux’s many books of poetry include The Cradle Place; The Street of Clocks; New and Selected Poems, 1975 – 1995, which was a finalist for the 1998 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Blind Swimmer: Selected Early Poems, 1970 – 1975; Split Horizon, for which he received the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Pecked to Death by Swans; A Boat in the Forest; The Drowned River: New Poems; Half Promised Land; Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy; Massachusetts; Like a Wide Anvil from the Moon the Light; Sunday; Madrigal on the Way Home; The Glassblower’s Breath; Memory’s Handgrenade; and The Land Sighted.

Thomas Lux also has edited The Sanity of Earth and Grass (1994, with Jane Cooper and Sylvia Winner) and has translated Versions of Campana. He has been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry and has received three National Endowment for the Arts grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship.