Diane Raptosh

two untitled poems from American Amnesiac
by Diane Raptosh

We have to tolerate inequality as a way to gain prosperity for all,
someone told me Goldman Sachs’ Lord Griffiths said

at London’s Southwark Church last fall. What kind of sense is this?
I can’t remember a thing I did for that firm,

but it says on my C.V. I have advised for them.
Here is a thin cut of wisdom: The kinder you are the stronger

your immune system will be. And don’t forget oysters. Dark meat.
The day’s breath of garlic. Carelessness can ruin months of growth.

My old best friend Jen Byers says there’s such a job
as being minister of leaves of tea!

If someone were to ask which ancient figure I’d most like to meet,
I’d say the constitution, as it is a living document. Get on the page with me.

I recall the end of Rinehart’s last consulting phase
as if it were Lisette’s first look.

At each momentous stage of his life, a Sioux Indian earns a new name.
Jumping Badger landed the tag Sitting Bull on killing his first bison.

Unfriend was just dubbed word of the year.
The name’s Jon Doe, and I’m just lying doggo here on wheezing earth.


     Is it just me or have tales of repression, suffering, and cruelty
disappeared from public memory, slipped out

     of view like white deer against a rinse of snow?
People aren’t so much persons anymore as they are

     war fighters, purchasers, prisoners—shoulders bunched up like shrubs.
You can order cancer cells from a catalogue! Money is speech.

     Goldfish have a god-big range of recall, so I’ve read. I can sum up
watching tops of trees, lying on the bench that day in Gas Works Park.

     We need to shut down oil infrastructures, and the tips of leaves don’t give
if we do this through lawsuits, boycotts or sabotage. But I’m afraid

     of assault. Of stroke. I have no memory of fear itself. A street. A bus shelter.
Blue snowflakes wafting from Shanghai. My treatment in Sydney

     for kidney stones. I’ve grown more oval than the orange roughy. I ache
on all the bodies of each of my parts. I need to clutch another person’s face.

untitled poems from American Amnesiac – Diane Raptosh

Diane Raptosh has published three collections of poems, Just West of Now (Guernica Editions, 1992, repr. 1995), Labor Songs (Guernica, 1999), and Parents from a Different Alphabet (Guernica, 2008). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as The Los Angeles Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in numerous anthologies in the U.S. and Canada. The recipient of three fellowships in literature through the Idaho Commission on the Arts, she was a recent featured artist on “Art and Soul Public Radio Stories: American Masterpieces Celebrates Selected Idaho Artists, Writers, and Performers.” She is an ardent supporter of the Occupy Movement.

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