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From the Winter, 2012 issue of The Antioch Review

Of Your Poem

How you use the I to step away and go on and on about yourself without offering much but language, distance, and futility is way too close to the way I feel when talking on the phone all day to people losing their homes to banks, who ask, “Should I just walk away, start all over again?” “Yes, go ahead,” I today said to a caller, while thinking of your poem, and then I really took off: “Go ahead, just float as you already are, without a real or final answer, like a haunted spirit (very tired image, I know, very, i.e. Sting, but then given a very tired situation, why not Sting?). Yes, if your house is, then all our houses are haunted. Don’t walk away, run.” Click. But then in terms of Americans going dead, my mind ran to The Night of the Living Dead or The Dawn of. When listening, reading, or watching, as I’d done, as I was doing, it was the victims which worried me most. They deep down knew the answers to the tragedy forming before them, but looked for someone else for an answer. They trusted no one they knew or saw, but wanted to trust anybody and everything they couldn’t see to offer a solution. The former job of poetry! The company I work for now making a business of it. I know, you merely asked what I think of your poem. These were not the intended results. That’s what listeners are hoping for.



Scott Withiam’s first book, Arson & Prophets, is published by Ashland Poetry Press. His poems are recently out in Agni, Antioch Review, AscentBoston Review, Chattahoochee Review, Cimarron Review, Diagram, and Salamander. Poems are forthcoming in Barrow Street and Beloit Poetry Journal. He works for a non-profit in the Boston area. 


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