This week’s poem – “The Right Way to Die for a Poem” by fellow CantoMundista, Juan Morales – presents a brief but powerful catalog of poets’ deaths and the human frailty and risk – whether satire resulting in a death sentence or accident in the tub – involved in those deaths.
What moves me the most is how the poem feels like a cascade of lives in which the speaker’s own life is in the mix, each versifier carried along by “inspired gusts.” For me, this image of lives tumbling in the wind parallels some of what happens when a poet sits down at the page, how we carry our own personal histories – cultural, reading, familial, emotional – as well as the histories of the words we choose, everything alive with us as we press each borrowed word fresh onto the page.
This poem is from Morales’ new book, The Siren World, available for pre-order from Lithic Press here.
The Right Way to Die for a Poem – Juan Morales
Osip Mandelstam in a gulag for a cockroach written on Stalin’s lip,
Garcia-Lorca buried where he fell for siding with those
who have nothing, Roque Dalton gunned down
by ERP comrades, and the Spanish writer I read about
accidently electrocuted by a hair dryer in her tub.
Thinking of them, I want to know if this
is the way I really want to go:
scribbling words about a shirtless man on top of
a southbound train on the back of a gas receipt
against my steering wheel with both hands
at 80 miles-per-hour, praying a deer
will not cross the interstate and
wary of the strong, inspired gusts.