The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Bruce Weigl

Draft of Final Chorus I


Peace is the new word that you heard, the way of things now.  No more hiding in dark bunkers with ghosts who bow to their visitors, come to hide from bombs, their tombs still unprepared in the rice fields.  A single new rice plant is laid down.  A single new rice plant that could become the world is stuck into the muddy earth


                                              so everyone is hurled somehow forward in time, or this may all be a dream that the lost hold onto, so it seems they behold something when they look out across the almost empty fields, they shout to their children who play under a safe sky to come home and eat the little food they have, their eyes resting in a pool of new light, but this is the song of those who fled at the end of days, the helicopters hovering over the embassy like giant insects, the thousands of people fleeing in fear of what they were told, the way they all would die if they stayed, losing track of the incense smoke that could show them their way back home.



Bruce Weigl

Draft of Final Chorus II


But there was no slaughter, no crimes against people who left for a country that had come to destroy them, the steeple of the pink cathedral quiet now, only fires burning in the buildings of the failed empire, to keep their secrets buried in the ashes, flashes of the final explosions lighting the sky, this is the song of the people who ran away from their own language, from the spirit kept alive for the thousands of years.  They could not stay.  



               They could not stay when they could ride the hovering helicopters away from some trouble that never would come, so the streets were almost empty for a time, the only sound some joyful celebrations, while the fleet waited at sea for the refugees who gathered around their protectors and guides to a new world as if they were brothers.  Who could know how their lives would be, the old flag unfurled in a place so far away.  In the snow of America they found their new homes. 



                                                                  Or in the warm California sun they laid themselves down in strange beds, the quiet moans of remembering, rising like the mist, like the bells in the pink church that are quiet now.




Bruce Weigl

Miami Nights


The needle only takes and never gives back.  The needle takes the flesh away to salve the ancient brain through long canals of blood.  The needle takes the blood away then gives it back all juiced and hot to send you into something that is never there.  That’s the best of it, the nothing part.  Know nothing, see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing, feel nothing, be nothing, and then the car light’s sudden shock through the trees between houses of a place you don’t recognize anymore as your own and you’re out of the thing that had carried you away from sorrow and loss, that wave of a rush that will only kill you, the way the needle only takes, and never gives back.



Bruce Weigl

This Back Porch Rocker My Prison


It isn’t the dope but what drives the people to use in increasing numbers across the whole spectrum of human kind, as if the sun was going down one last time.  We are killing ourselves with pleasure


                                                                so primitive,  the brain will not let go once it has a taste, once it has a chance to warm up a vein, then an arm, then a whole way of being, which is a way of not being in the world.  I wonder where the love was when we needed it.  I heard the lark sing out across the green expanse of time, and then I heard that song come back as if it didn’t matter to the night, no souls out there to call us in return, only ourselves to hold the wall against such need as you have never seen or felt before.  Leave the door open, turn the light on, hold the child tight against you.  Hold the child tight and against you.




BRUCE WEIGL's most recent poetry collection is The Abundance of Nothing which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 2013. He has a new collection forthcoming next year from BOA Editions, Ltd. called On the Shores of Welcome Home.  He has just finished a collection of short prose called Among Elms in Ambush and is at work co-translating the Vietnamese epic The Tale of Kieu.


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