"After the Fact"
As if the world had four corners—in one, a war;
in another, a revolution against uninvited restrictions
on what one could think. In the third,
messages on microfilm tied to the ankles
of caged birds with teeth and talons pacing
and bickering about what "mine" means.
In the last, alone, someone dressed as the 21st century,
skyscraper hat, flat-screen glasses,
stood at a table wondering about side effects
of medications and reward systems that are triggered
when boredom is bred in brains.
In a parable of panic and habit, a pilot landing
a crippled plane is like a country
where fearful rulers destroy dissent and whatever remains
goes from bad to worse. Sleep tight, you martyrs.
And you criminals who killed for a narrow share
of power and a few rotten spoils.
Enough is enough.
The corners converge, causing the globe to grow smaller
than all of time times space divided
by every petty difference.
The girl newly dead on the sidewalk says,
"Excuse me, but—
what kind of moral force is brute moral force?"
For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click spacerhereyeshyperlinkPoetry SubmissionsSlate reads new poems from Oct. 1 to April 30. Manuscripts sent between May 1 and Sept. 30 will not be considered.To submit poems: Send, as a single attached document, up to three poems of no more than 50 lines each to firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the poet's name for the subject line of the e-mail and for the title of the attachment. We prefer Word documents (.doc or .docx) to PDFs.Please include a brief, professional cover letter, including publication history, in the body of your email. Please limit submissions to one per poet per annual reading period. Simultaneous submissions are OK. Slate no longer accepts poetry submissions by mail. The email address email@example.com is for poetry submissions only (or to notify editors of acceptance elsewhere of a poem under consideration at Slate). Other inquiries, etc., will not be addressed.10000false220061444537PMWednesdayJanJanuary161/4/2006 9:45:37 PM63271989937000000020061444537PMWednesdayJanJanuary161/4/2006 9:45:37 PM632719899370000000.Clickhere to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site.Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.