“At Least Something” by Jeff Hardin

Jeff Hardin


Politics is but a narrow field …

Politics sounds like geese honking
inside an oil drum, calling it a sanctuary.
Politics is performing surgery on a thing
already dead. A Shaker chair is art,
and art is not business, and business
is not theology, although some people
act like it is. They split words’ interiors,
to blow up other people’s worlds.
Politics is 1862, 1945, 1968, this
very moment which rebukes every
other moment. A doxology plays,
heard by fewer and fewer. I would
prefer things work, but they don’t.
They burst, collapse, disintegrate.
Politics obliterates hymns. Politics
is a window onto a wall supporting
a dome keeping the heavens out.
Rhetoric is not rumination but ruination.
It runs roughshod and ruins a nation.
The connotative overtakes the denotative.
The figurative stands no chance against
the literal. Rhetoric isn’t an orchard
where stillness reigns. How lovely,
a word like reigns. It sounds inside
the inner ear and seems to solemn
ever outward, touching blossoms
bees visit, hillsides streaming away,
and hollowed-out beech trunks found
by jays and vireos. How lovely, too,
the idea of hollowness, how absence
is all it is, but at least that’s something,
as it was in the beginning when a word
spoke, and everything began to happen.

from Poets Respond
June 14, 2022


Jeff Hardin: “Our current moment seems more and more shaped by and interpreted through rhetoric intended only to further a ‘narrative.’ The possibilities of language, it seems to me, are thus diminished so that we all must live in an impoverishment of meaning and of connection to others. In a world where talking points hurt my soul, I write and read poems to remind myself that I have one and that language can have other purposes beyond the political.” (web)

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