Skip to Content

Poets Against the War

By Susan Brennan

We stand at the Capitol
seized in snapshots
of curious tourists

our rumpled posters reflect
in an officer's shades as he speaks
so softly it surprises me

asking us to step off the sidewalk
his voice as a shepherd beckons
his flock, his accent sunned in Southern

syllables. Maybe "sheep" is not the most
desirable metaphor for human protestors
but clumped with the others I let go

of my small life to be a cluster
warmed by fellow shoulders
our faces a brief constellation of togetherness.

In the February chill as the Capitol
glows lunar behind us, our silence
mushrooms into a vortex

a great ear hinged to the cold skull of the sky.
Poets, watchers, news camera, officers,
residents hurrying by on their cells, callers

on the other end of those phones -- pinched
together in an irrevocable clay.
From the far end of Lafayette Park a drove

of starlings twists and wheels
silver flash under wings, black top feathers
sweep the space between us and the sun

as if to clean the sky
of blood and bone wind-born.
I'm not listening to the birds now clamped

to a single tree top, chattering whether
to stay or move on; I'm not listening to the listening,
the fruit of silence; I'm not listening to the deaf bell

stamping its hard thick notes to the downward wind --
I'm listening to the war. To its silence.
It sounds like peace, it sounds like rest;

but it is hollow, it is the whole endless groan
of mothers who have lost their motherhood.

Added: Wednesday, July 2, 2014  /  Used with permission.
Susan Brennan

Susan Brennan​’s poems can be found in chapbooks, Blue Sirens (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), numinous, (Finishing Line Press, 2014), and Drunken Oasis, (Rattapallax Press, 2011). She curated poetry programming at Wilco’s Solid Sound Music Festival at MASS MoCA, and is staging her poem about Georges Seurat’s last days. She has written film scripts, a 1 million hit plus award winning web-series, and pitched film stories, produced a short film, premiering at Venice, Austin, and Tribeca Film Festivals. See what she’s up to at Susan's website.

Other poems by this author