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Two Poems by D. Nurkse Please scroll down!
WE BELIEVED IN THE END OF THE WORLD and SURVIVORS

D. Nurkse is the author of seven books of poetry, the latest being The Fall, Knopf: NY, 2003. Prior books, The Rules of Paradise, 2001; Leaving Xaia, 2000; and Voices Over Water, 1996 were published by Four Way Books: NY and earlier works were from Graywolf, Hanging Loose Press, State Street Press, and Owl Creek Press. Formerly the Poet Laureate of Brooklyn, he has received the Whiting Writers' Award, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, two grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Tanne Foundation award, and the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry. He’s also worked in the human rights movement, particularly the children’s rights area, and written widely on human rights issues. He’s worked with Amnesty International and other organizations. He is currently a professor in the Stonecoast MFA program in Maine. [Photo (C) 2003 by Jane Yoemans]


WE BELIEVED IN THE END OF THE WORLD

We scrunched under the desk
where I once memorized
the lives of saints and heroes

while the teacher droned on
trying to stay calm
in the face of a bomb
that might never fall.

In that rich dark
we learned how we fitted
boy and girl,
how we were our opposites
and each our own opposite.

Above us, the stashed gum
of a generation of older brothers
glinted, amazingly hard:
if we tried to carve a heart
that dark sheen cracked.

We believed this world would end:
like water from the fountain
held in cupped hands,
like chalk dusk or the powder
from a jelly donut.

Far away the principal rumbled
on his scratchy intercom,
then nothing, the powerful wish

the pulse quickening
as if to find a way out

and no world except us.


SURVIVORS

The one we loved
lay trapped under the tower
and we heard tapping,
first late at night,
then in the silence
between sirens, then always
in that city half-deserted
at the onset of winter.

In the factory whose windows
blazed with evening--
in the immense theater
before the curtain rose--

in the unmade bed
we kept returning to
because loneliness
shook us like leaves.

It is the pulse, love, you said,
that maddening relentless code.


Copyright ©2002 ,2004 by D. Nurkse. All rights reserved by the author.
"We Believed in the End of the World" from THE RULES OF PARADISE
(Four Ways Books: NY 2002.)

Graphics: City MourningscapeCity & Targetscape (C) 2004 by Daniela Gioseffi.
All rights reserved by the Artist.

 

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