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"Thought Under Construction"

New Poets of the American West

There's no first stanza and maybe we should all go home,
since thinking isn't easy under any circumstances. And if

'home' is what's under construction? The work crew first
disconnects the stove, then turns up the radio. Omelets and broken

eggs, yes, but quiet and even the chips and cracks
were the script. Like the script of a one-note seasonal bird

when a chill moves over a lake. But not like the radio.
The first rule of construction? Destruction. Even the bees

are irritable, launching preemptive strikes. Says the radio.
And how trite of the sky to be enamel blue for days,

the white rose bud, a small finger--thumbs up--in the green
& scorched brown garden. Voices in the background fill

dismantled space, while, hands over ears, not to listen,
every one is thinking, "So what if the background voices

murmurs in, as they say, harmony, if the fist in the garden
unfurls the lineaments of rose? If the rose seems to mean

something?" Voices growl at the edges
of mind, mind skittering away from thought, saying

(in a mother's voice), "This will never do."
"Safe as houses," we say, without any idea what that means.


Lisa M. Steinman, Kenan Professor of English & Humanities at Reed College, is the author of eight books: three books about poetry — Made In America (Yale UP, 1987), Masters of Repetition (St. Martin's, 1998), and Invitation to Poetry (Blackwell, 2008) — and four volumes of poetry — Lost Poems (Ithica House, 1976); All That Comes To Light (Arrowood, 1989); A Book of Other Days (Arrowood, 1993), and  Carslaw's Sequences (University of Tampa Press, 2003) — as well as a poetry chapbook, Ordinary Songs (26 Books, 1996). Her work has received rexognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Rockeller Foundation, among other places. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Notre Dame Review, Chariton Review, Prairie Schooner, Chicago Review, Epoch, Michigan Quarterly, Boulevard, Threepenny Review, The Massachusetts Review and Quarterly West. She co-edits the poetry magazine, Hubbub. "Thought Under Construction" was published in the 2010 collection New Poets of the American West.

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