Jeff Whitney is the author of The Tree With Lights in it, available from Thrush Press, while Radio Silence (Black Lawrence Press) and Smoke Tones (Phantom Books) were co-written with poet Philip Schaefer. His poems can be found in journals such as Adroit, Beloit Poetry Journal, Blackbird, Colorado Review, Narrative, Poetry Northwest, and Verse Daily. He lives in Portland, where he teaches English.
Perpetual Country (Post-election)
I used to think nothing good
came from walking the moat
filled with bodies until I filled
the moat myself.
Until I filled the moat myself.
There is a country between Koreas
where land mines sit bored, their war sixty
years behind them. On either side, flags
so large you can see them from space.
Elsewhere, seventy-seven tribes wiped out
in a single decade. All for
a faster way to Sunday.
There are ways a country swallows
and ways a country breathes
and I tell you neither is the way
a tree grows it knuckles
of fruit. To love a country
at all is a kind of kicking
from the rafters. The history
of give it back. Everyone
was always so desperate
wearing their sharpest teeth.