Two Poems

By Hank Greenspan

28% Buffaloed
Frenetic Mortuary

more coming, coming
to parking lots
body bags
refrigerator trucks
dead in ragged queues.

Earlier, I tried saving them as doornails.
284,364 doornails in buckets in my garage.
The New York pail filled first.
Almost ran out at Alabama
but I’m friends with a hardware guy
who helped me get more stuff.

I filled the whole garage
until no space
for buckets brimming
bleeding, bursting.
I locked the door permanently.
I can’t go in there anymore.

I bought crates
and FedExed new ones
to shining seas
for drowning doornails.

I am a playwright, poet, and psychologist–emeritus prof from the University of Michigan.   My plays have been produced at more than 300 venues worldwide.  A lot of my work [including this piece] works between genres–theatre and poetry, oral history and performance, and so on.

As a retired academic–playwright and poet as well as psychologist–I have been privileged to work at home in relative safety.  In all my work, I tend toward minimalism, which serves in our age of distraction.  I have become closer with groups of writers (mostly poets and playwrights) who have tried to use our craft to give useful form to these maddening times.  In the  U.S., the ;political catastrophe is at least as deadly as the covid one, with which it is interwoven.  If there is a way out, it will be grounded in justice and solidarity.  I am neither hopeful nor despairing.  As artists and as citizens, we do what we can do–and what we fail to do–in the piecemeal of every day.

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Michael Polgar
1 year ago

Great poem, thanks. Reminds us that our communities are separated and incomplete, being harmed by division, disease, and need. Plus, it raises lots of questions! Why is racial science being done (to find ‘real Indians’) when the need is for health care? What does blood quantum matter when it comes to health care? This poem reminds us of cultural divides while also joking about them (instead of a bison, how about a scholarship to SUNY-Buffalo?). Greenspan’s characters are in conversation, debating over the nature of help, which is interesting to the reader.

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