“If It’s the Last Thing I Do” by Dorianne Laux

Dorianne Laux


This green-lit world in autumn, falling
to red, to rust, Midas-touched, as fuses

are torched and rockets flare into blue
over the Pacific, two grown men squaring

off in the schoolyard, too stupid to fear,
too numbed by power to feel the air

riding over the bare skin of their soft
hands, not a lick of a good day’s work

between them, TV host of sleepless nights,
childhood’s parents fighting in the kitchen,

someone throwing a pot of gold against a wall.
Equal as all get out in giving in to their lesser

angels, those seraphim that tumbled through
clouds of coal ash and acid rain and landed

on their feet, miraculously unscathed, but
with an unworldly ability to hate. Of late,

the trees are turning skeletal in preparation
for the shivery winter, pall of snow

laid down on the earth like a funeral cloth.
We may not live to see another spring,

another yellow summer, another flood,
another famine, another war. Maybe this

is that time when we wished them dead, our
parents, go ahead we thought as we lay

in our beds, just get it over with, and do
what you keep promising with a raised fist

will be the last goddamned thing you ever do.

from Poets Respond
October 1, 2017

[download audio]


Dorianne Laux: “I wrote this poem after reading what Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters at the United Nations last week: ‘We have to calm down the hot heads. We continue to strive for the reasonable and not the emotional approach … of the kindergarten fight between children.’”(website)

Rattle Logo