Land­scape with Sev­eral Small Fires

New England Review - - Literary Lives -

I like dead things, says the land­scape. They can­not hurt me. The armies swarm the cities of the yel­low field and burn them down. There’s not enough room for us to be our­selves, say the sol­diers stream­ing across the plains, So you will have to be pushed out of the way.

We like things re­lated to our sur­vival: soup, ar­rows— they ex­pand the range of the species. Gold­mine, gold­mine, land­mine. War, and the art of war, and the land­scape of war. Grant me free­dom from ob­jects, says the paint­ing. I will help you, says the paint.

More ter­ri­to­ries. We sat in our tanks and rolled over our en­e­mies. We tram­pled ev­ery­thing into noise and mud. Willpower, gun­pow­der, con­cus­sive thun­der. Pink, or­ange, red, or­ange dream­ing red. I am the fire, says the fire. My body is a grave­yard,

says the land­scape. You’re welcome, says the land­scape. Gold bod­ies on the red, red ground. I paint in the wounds. Socket, says the shoul­der. Shoul­der, says the socket. Let’s kill ev­ery­thing, says ev­ery­thing else. Smeared night, smudged dawn. I saw him fall. Them,

fall­ing. Split and felled and pounded into the ground. We knocked the heads off the stat­u­ary, de­prived the land­marks of any mean­ing. Vic­tory swelling in the oc­cu­pa­tion. History is painted by the win­ners. Keep your paints wet. Trust me, I have things to say.

Richard Siken

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