Revolution NOW [11]: The Uses of Poetry – Michael Farry

The Uses of Poetry

Ammar, ten, is thankful
for The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams
whose two volumes (Carcanet, 2010)
kept him warm all last night.
They were precious indeed,
so cold
under the clear sky of the Kurdistan highlands.

Where his father is he has no idea.

Tomorrow night he will also be warm,
for he has hidden
The Cantos of Ezra Pound (New Directions, 1996)
stained with recent tears,
beneath the largest boulder
at the back of his makeshift shelter.

His father may still be fighting in Aleppo.


Yesterday someone stole his paperback
Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry
(2003, Editors — Ramazani, Ellmann and O’Clair)
and losing those 1596 poems
has made him nervous, untrusting.

He’s not sure which side his father’s on.

To assure him my motives are sincere
I give him my
Emily Dickinson Collected Poems (Courage, 1991)
promise to return soon with a week’s supply,
pages thick and dry,
but so much depends

liberal arts education cash flow.

I leave, go west to raid the libraries,
fill my suitcase with heavy life-giving tomes;
but your slim volumes of free verse are safe,
the initial flame promises much
but soon there’s nothing but black cinders
to clog rough fireplaces
in every refugee camp and forgotten village

in anguished worlds afar.

Please note submissions for our Poem of the Week segment is currently closed — a new call for submissions will be issued in April. We are currently accepting submissions to our regular features: MONOGRAPH (a group of poems by a single author) and New Voices (poets aged 18-30 who have yet to publish a full collection).

Please read the full requirements on our Submissions page, before sending your work.

Featured Image: CC01