Back to Issue Forty-Five

Thinking in Swedish



I could live the rest of my life
listening to Aretha and pretend
to be an oracle and maybe get a handle
on members of Congress who arrived
squeaky-clean with valiant notions
of purifying the land, thick with bribes,
but erred and fell off walls to become
an abandoned prairie of Humpty’s.

But I’ve forgotten my escape routes,
the oaks and sequoias, and live
as though sugar were my only stimulant.
I’m just not myself this morning.
I anticipate the journey to work
as a voyage over seven seas. The teakettle

whistles on about Puritanism
but my insides are tender as an afterparty
with no one dancing. I’ve a peacoat pilling
in a dark closet and the arrow points
due north where I must go but first
tell me about the promiscuous fountains
in Sweden and how they remind us
of the poets and all their animal sorrow.


Global Energy



Give me the fashionably linen-clad
scoundrels and dreamy radicals
lounging poolside in a Hockney painting.
Give me those whose damp freckles
vibrate along jawlines like flairs
of innocence. I want virtue to descend
like the beauty of a lemon tree
and to gasp at least once a day
at the miracle of vitality that is my friend’s smile.
Money has no cadence here. The wardrobe
of the rich is like an imperial shadow that covers
the history of gun trading and masculine footsteps.
At five in the afternoon, my first prayers
return to the zest of my mind
where no tundra resides.
Give me yellow cornfields and villas
above Costa del Sol. My whole world
blooms like a theater of exotic flowers

Major Jackson is the author of Razzle Dazzle: New & Selected Poems (2023). He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. Major Jackson is host of podcast The Slowdown.

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