What Rough Beast | Poem for June 8, 2017

Eileen Tabios
From The Ashbery Riff-Offs
—where each poem begins with 1 or 1-2 lines from “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror” by John Ashbery

Witnessed in the Convex Mirror: Complicity

No time for these, except to use them
as kindling. The sooner they burn
the sooner empire burns. The old man
should not have spit—he’d already lived
longer than deserved by someone who
can look at a village of corpses and still
wonder what type of dinner awaits his
presence over the next hilltop. He should
not have spit, though the bears might
appreciate his brain and heart just as
he often appreciates their liver. No one is
innocent in empire. Bears, you’re welcome


Eileen R. Tabios has released about 50 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in eight countries and cyberspace. Her most recent include The Opposite of Claustrophobia (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2017) and Amnesia: Somebody’s Memoir (Black Radish Books, 2016). Forthcoming poetry collections include Mantattan: An Archaeology (Paloma Press, 2017). Inventor of the poetry form “hay(na)ku,” her poetry has been translated into eight languages. She also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 12 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays as well as served as editor or guest editor for various literary journals. More information is available at eileenrtabios.com.

SUBMIT to What Rough Beast via our SUBMITTABLE site.

If you want to support the mission and work of Indolent Books, consider making a tax-deductible contribution to Indolent Arts Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity.

Join our mailing list to receive news, updates, and special offers from Indolent Books.