February 9, 2015

Dan Nemes

LOVE POEM

In this episode a terrorist cell will spread
a biological agent through the water supply
unless we can stop them. In this episode
you wear your hair down. You wear all black
leather. You carry an assault rifle very tenderly,
cradled in the crook of your arm. In this episode
we parachute from 100,000 feet. We fall
for an entire commercial break. We have good
aim and endless 5.56×45 mm cartridges.
Even though the terrorists wear masks, to us
it’s clear that they’re all variations on my mother:
trigger-­happy and erratic, surprised by our intel.
And just before the rogue scientists synthesize
the virus, we burst into the secret lab. You cradle
your rifle like a rifle. You have a beautiful
tappet. No one sees what’s coming next, a twist:
the smoke clears, a hyperbolic needle buried
in my neck. The plunger looks very plastic,
like the stock of your rifle. The audience can’t
believe it. I die in this episode. No, they sob,
as the virus eats my eyeballs. Run, they scream,
as you sprint away from the explosions. What
will she do now? they wonder, as you chopper
away, as the credits flash and pop on their screens.

from Rattle #45, Fall 2014
Tribute to Poets of Faith

__________

Dan Nemes: “When I was an undergraduate, I spent a semester in El Salvador. This was 2005. I read Carolyn Forché’s ‘The Colonel’ as my bus climbed a mountainside about an hour outside of the capital, San Salvador. My faith took me to El Salvador, the witness, really of the people and the Jesuit priests and North American nuns and Archbishop Oscar Romero, those who were killed because their faith said God starves when a child goes hungry, because God’s skull bursts when a union organizer is executed in the street. I’ve never been able to write a poem about my time in El Salvador as poignant as Forché’s, so I do my best with what I can get my arms around. Now, living in Nashville, my apartment is about three miles from Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, the site of Tennessee’s Death Row. As part of a Benedictine spirituality group, every Saturday I go and pray the psalms with men incarcerated there. After we recite those ancient poems, we often swap our own or our favorites written by others. The act of writing poems cracks me open. Being faithful, being a poet of faith, means, for me, trusting in the slow and painful, rapturous and joyous accumulation of life, knowing that bearing witness to the suffering and joy in myself, in others, and in creation is redemptive.”