Poetry from Steven Hill (first of five)

Nightstill
		By Steven Hill 

Bruised moon, imperfect crystal
I am tied to the land where I am,
and the land maws like a pit bull's jaw
sucks from me through my feet.
I am no plant
converting sunlight effortlessly,
I break the dirt with a hoe
and want to own my own
square piece,
as any plant sprouting leaves.
It is not perfect, my situation, or perhaps it is
my expectation, or my explanations, 
my imperfections, or
my description of the world,
not Buddhist, not billionaire, not America First
but mine.

And now there is time 
for refinement and deep breaths,
and what of that?
Now I shall breathe shallow and always come up short, and
what of that?
                 And that, and that?

                 Forced labor in China coal mines,
that is that and hard to deny,
and lethal to take deep breaths for
the fine black soot petrifies
bronchial tubes; 
the air is thick 
in Ferguson ghettos,
in Rohingya temples and Berlin bordellos,
among Emanuel AME Bible study death prayers, 
and there
the short quick breath is life,
the walls have ears,
              and that is that.

The short, quick breath is love,
is resuscitation,
for who in love has time for long, deep inhales?
There is so much to love, so much that requires constant spark.
Fragile life withers and the plant needs water,
the roof begs repair, the faucet leaks,
the dull rock of entropy evaporates
by what divine rule shall I choose?
My child cries in the purple of the night, 
and off I go
       to comfort her:

                 and when the child is once again asleep,
                 bald head reflecting moonlight

back to bed I crawl
to the sound of my partner's hairy snores.
At the edge of the bed and rapid eye dreams
on my knees I pause
and claim all my voices—

none are silenced under the bruised moon,
rising up as crystal dew through the straws of my legs

                 voices dialogue back and forth,
                 they find common ground for armistice and conditions  

                 "Silent night, holy night
                  All is calm, all is bright..."

and for a few deep breaths I love this terrible land,
like the bombings in my body 
of Mariupol.

Time appears as an imperfect crystal,
a jagged silhouette rising in the nightstill  sky.
Moonlights, bouncing on the water,
silhouette branches that drip like black fingers,
                 that grip a hammer or a sickle,
                 or a galaxy balanced sideways,
for humans to comprehend.

[1] On June 17, 2015, white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African Americans in the middle of an evening Bible study at the 200 year-old Emanuel  AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

[1] The German language often smashes together two or more words to form a longer word that becomes a concept, such as freundschaftsbeziehunge, which means “bonds of friendship.” Nightstill is that quiet time in the middle of a sleepless night, when suddenly you feel content and whole in the knowledge of all things and your place in it. Yet you cannot corral that knowledge, and by the morning you remember almost nothing.

Steven Hill (www.Steven-Hill.com) is an author whose essays, articles and media interviews have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, The Nation, GuardianLe Monde, NPR, PBS, BBC, C-SPAN, Democracy Now and many others. He has published short fiction, poems and plays in a number of publications, including Columbia Journal, Minnesota Review, San Fernando Poetry Journal, Struggle, Kinnikinnik, Sea-Town Crier, Written Arts, Prophetic Voices, and the anthologies Sparkle and Blink, Grasp the Rainbow, Poets for a Livable Planet, and Seattle Poets. His plays have been produced in New York City (Off Off Broadway) , Washington DC and San Francisco. He also paints, collages, and composes and plays music. He is a graduate of Yale University.

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