July 3, 2012 / Creative Writing
In “Enduring Freedom,” Brian Volck brings us to war-torn Afghanistan, where a mother sees “evidence of things unhoped for: an arm, half a foot, an ear.”
May 12, 2010
Hope is not about some future meadow.
Hope is not a triumphal march toward some brighter,
bloodless field. Neither is it lighting a candle
or cursing the darkness or calling the glass half full.
It is this half-empty tumbler turning cartwheels
above the chasm. You, for example—
poised above your own private precipice,
bruised and bloodied, sifting through the ashes
of ten thousand burnt offerings.
Don’t scatter those ashes; don’t stuff the corpses
into body bags just yet. Don’t launch a fleet
of skyrockets to cheer up Gehenna. Don’t pretend
that you’re still hungry, like those battle-blind birds
pecking for seeds between the corpses.
Hope is not an appetite for this or that concocted future.
It is the present seeking itself, the present—
unlearning the past, agnostic of the future—
breathing, in its chains, like the sea.
Richard Schiffman is a writer based in New York and a former journalist for National Public Radio. He is the author of two biographies: Mother of All and Sri Ramakrishna: A Prophet For the New Age. His poems have appeared or are upcoming in Poetry East, the North American Review, Southern Poetry Review, 32 Poems, Rosebud, Valparaiso Poetry Review and many other journals. His “Spiritual Poetry Portal” can be found at http://multiplex.isdna.org/poetry.htm.