“Acceptance Speech for Winning the Nobel Peace Prize” by Peter Davis

Peter Davis


First off, most importantly, I’d like to thank war
for making peace so valuable. We should be willing to thank
the bad for making the good possible. I say, “I would never
know the moon without night.”

However, we all know the black tar of violence
sticks to the machines and they don’t work right.
We’ve all seen an arrow through a bloody heart.
We all know whose heart it is.

I’d like to praise doctors and nurses for caring for wounds.
It is a dirty business.
I prefer to not have wounds, and yet I know this award
is like a metal-plated wound on my heart.

… The sacrifice of waterfalls, the terrific flight of a seagull,
the hanging of vines and leaves from trees, the insects,
the crayfish and miniscule snails, the small canyons
and the man-made tunnels under roads …

I cannot swallow these things out of my chest.
I cannot digest butterflies or sharp knives.
There is no part of me that smells a soup from our
broth of intolerance and one-sidedness.

Thank you for giving me something
to remember the sadness of my life by. My life is a religion
of sadness and I only wish that others would join me
and reach out because they are sad too.

I would love to wake up one morning and find hands,
some up to the elbow, coming out of my lawn.

from Rattle #24, Winter 2005


Peter Davis: “I’m a guy who lives with my wife and son in Muncie, Indiana. I have doubts about myself as a poet and teacher. I do the best I can. That’s why I write poems: because I try. I mean, essentially, I’m hopeful. It’s not very cynical and heartless at its core. It’s not very punk.” (web)

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