Michael Ruby

Eight Poems from The Star-Spangled Banner


                                                                                                                   (through the 1970s)                                                                                       

O Lyrics of a Lowly Life say The Lost World can Hugh Selwyn Mauberley you In Cold Hell,
               In Thicket see New Goose
By The Materials the Al Que Quiere dawn’s Observations early Elegiac Feelings
               American light Words
What The Dream Songs so As We Know proudly Spoon River Anthology we Day by Day
               hailed Smoke and Steel
At Poeta en Nueva York the Kora in Hell twilight’s Mexico City Blues last Democratic
               Vistas gleaming Stanzas in Meditation

Whose Spring and All broad Montage of a Dream Deferred stripes The Pisan Cantos and
               Stanzas for Iris Lezak bright The Children of the Night stars Ariel
Through Passport to Horror the Poems perilous 55 Poems fight &
O’er Lunar Baedecker the Mobile ramparts Memory we New Hampshire watched Black Riders
Were Rivers and Mountains so The Waste Land gallantly What Are Years? streaming

And White Buildings the Sour Grapes rocket’s The Cities red Battle Pieces glare For Love
The Saint Judas bombs Prufrock and Other Observations bursting Life Studies in The Bean
               Eaters air The Innocent Doves
Gave The Good European proof After Lorca through A Boy’s Wish the Riprap night
               The Wedge
That Meditations in an Emergency our Leaves of Grass flag War Is Kind was The
               Raven and Other Poems still Harmonium there The Fire Screen

O The Double Dream of Spring say A does Poems by Emily Dickinson that On the
               Wing star Water Street spangled Three Poems banner Homage to Sextus
               Propertius yet The Far Field wave The Man With the Blue Guitar
O’er Tender Buttons the Summer Knowledge land Lunch Poems of The Sonnets the
               Reality Sandwiches free The Distances
And Studying Hunger Journals the Renascence home Howl of North & South the Clairvoyant
               Journal brave The Dead Lecturer

                                            U.S. NEWS HEADLINES IN 2010

                                                                                           For Richard Kostelanetz

O Home-Sale Gauge Fell say Democrats Fight for Kennedy Seat can Bernanke Faces Tighter Vote
               you Birth Weights Fell see Paulson Defends Bailout
By Reclusive Novelist Salinger Dies the Obama Retreats From Cap Trade dawn’s Democrats Go It
               Alone on Dodd-Frank early Six Faulted Over Fort Hood light Obama Weighs 9/11 Military
What Consumers Stay Glum so Obama Unveils Debt Panel proudly Mortgage Delinquencies Edge
               Down we Lawyers Cleared Over 9/11 Memos hailed Afghan Man Guilty in Bomb Plot
At EPA Delays Emissions Rules the Health Bill Struggles in House twilight’s Jobs, Manufacturing
               Stumble last Waterboarding Emails Sought gleaming Democrats Chase Health Votes

Whose EPA Makes Polluters Pay Less broad Pell Grants Face Cuts stripes Drone Kills Suspect in
               CIA Bombing and Vote by Vote, a Troubled Bill Was Revived bright Palin Makes Fans
               Uneasy stars Middle Class Drifts From Obama
Through U.S. Keeps First-Strike Strategy the Jobless Claims Rise Unexpectedly perilous Rash of
               Shootings in Chicago fight GOP Candidates Court Seniors
O’er Tax Deal Lifts Home Sales the Oil Spill Likely to Reach Land in Days ramparts Massey Saw
               No Red Flags at Coal Mine we Most People Carry Neanderthal Genes watched Delayed
               Cement Plugging Is a Focus
Were Public Still Backs Offshore Drilling so Obama Faults 'Cozy' Oil Setup gallantly BP Tries to
               Shift Blame to Transocean streaming Housing Prices Remain Weak

And House Votes to End Military Gay Ban the Tar Hits Florida as Obama Visits rocket’s Drilling
               Moratorium Reverberates red U.S. Nears Racial Milestone glare BP Agrees to $20 Billion
The Anadarko Blames BP for Rig Disaster bombs Banks Dodge Some Bullets bursting Consumers
               Get a Watchdog Agency in Spy for Cuba, Unrepentant, Gets Life air Revisions Show
               Slower Recovery
Gave Grid Vulnerable to Cyber-Attacks proof Senate Confirms Kagan for Court through Alaska's
               Stevens Perishes in Crash the Illegal Immigration Slides night Get Ready for an Anti-
               Incumbent Wave
That Pastor Still Plans Quran Burning our Students' SAT Scores Stay in Rut flag Tea Party Claims
               Big Win was Americans’ Net Worth Falls still Obama Tax Credit Looks Endangered there
               Congress Punts on Taxes

O Cyber-Attacks Test Pentagon say Parties Heighten Pitch to Seniors does Middle Class Slams
               Brakes on Spending that GOP Groups Launch Massive Ad Blitz star Democrats Retrench
               as GOP Pulls Away spangled Deportation Program Grows banner Manufacturing Keeps
               Slowing yet GOP Ads Hammer Away at Stimulus wave Housing Gloom Deepens
O’er Sour Mood in Midwest, South Lifts GOP the Oklahoma Sharia Ban Halted land CIA Isn't
               Charged In Video Erasures of New Oil Patches Sprout Across Nation the Consumers Are
               Feeling More Flush free GOP Governors Plot Budget Cuts
And Federal Pay Freeze Planned the Court Strikes at Health Law home Arms Treaty Clears Senate
               Hurdle of Budget Brawl Begins in Congress the Economic Growth Exceeds Forecasts
               brave Many Judicial Picks Aren't Confirmed


O election say price can reason you escalate see dogshit
By leggings the pellet dawn’s holster early reassignment light hemisphere
What Hellgate so delicate proudly porous we timed hailed lemonade
At parking the ram twilight’s tendon last pole gleaming space

Whose telephone broad Wantagh stripes peers and damages bright dames stars belljar
Through bites the penmanship perilous blessing fight flies
O’er performance the monster ramparts door we rocked watched hockey
Were Pembroke so oily gallantly basketball streaming eggdrop

And boiling the premise rocket’s permanent red dodging glare seagull
The dumdum bombs happy bursting solids in time air planning
Gave basic proof din through elevators the baseball night felt
That howitzer our brace flag damnation was chilly still breathing there bandolier

O election say pileup does reason that needs star level spangled ant banner rowing yet tendencies
               wave humdrum
O’er poles the free land demonic of easy the regal free species
And billystick the perm home bollix of elegant the singsong brave lacquer

                                    FROM A RED 2012 STANDARD DIARY

O Tuesday November 6 say Awakened by Natalie can calling from Florida at 7:20.  you Sunny and
               cold. see I feel no emotion
By about the election the as I drink coffee, exercycle dawn’s and read about it.  early Emotionless.
               But confident.  light I believe.  I don’t know.
What I’ve enjoyed this, so it’s been a high point of my life.  proudly I wish Mom lived to see this,
               we but she saw all victories, hailed she was an optimist.
At Don calls from the NHL strike, the I tell him not to worry.  twilight’s I can’t do any poetry work,
               last just write about the election.  gleaming Elections are historic;

Whose they are choices.  broad James is here to fix a faucet.  stripes Louisa and I walk to P.S. 321.
               and No electioneering there.  bright They say we have to go stars to P.S. 282 on Lincoln.
Through I look in the P.O., the buy the stamps I need perilous to mail people my trilogy.  fight Nap
               for 15 minutes.
O’er I walk past our old place the at 133 Garfield, ramparts cross the playground we Charlotte and I
               used to frequent.  watched Again, no electioneering,
Were no excitement of any kind.  so We’ve devolved to paper ballots.  gallantly In my winter coat
               streaming for the first time this fall, I walk

And through 19th century streets the to the B train.  No service.  rocket’s I hurry up to Grand Army,
               red just make a train.  glare I write “O election say price”
The (This diary feels very full.  bombs My mother died in it.).  bursting At work, lots of contact in
               with Alice, who likes air the exit polls on Hispanics.
Gave At 7, when network exit polls proof say it’s 49-49 in N.C., through I announce, “Obama
               won.”  the At some point, I hear night Gerry Baker sees a landslide.
That Disappointing dinner: our Chipotle burritos, flag not really enough either.  was Lots of contact
               with Charlotte, still excited, at the Kennedy School, there and with Russ in Florida.

O I had the Congress story say through 9 something, does then the Senate story.  that I was basically
               keeping up star with all the Senate races, spangled didn’t have time to take in banner the
               states being called, yet the election being called.  wave We finished work at 2.
O’er People congregated at our desk.  the Jenn pulled out beers.  land Later, a bunch of them of
               went to the same bar the as Megyn Kelly, free who put down Karl Rove.
And Josh and I called cars, the smoked cigs on the street home and celebrated: of “The backlash
               failed.  the They couldn’t complete brave the Reagan era.”


                                                    for Ornette Coleman (1930-2015)

O Ornette say freedom can reach you telling see doodles
By ringbearer the self dawn’s pole early seething light holes
What hesitation so hellebore proudly ashen we lacked hailed Pam
At burl the milk twilight’s cherry last sonogram gleaming horseshoe

Whose Pullman broad suspicions stripes Pigmeat and bilks bright ultimate stars Burgundy
Through imitation the instantaneous perilous bop fight find
O’er steam the bailiwick ramparts proke we eased watched ushers
Were bemistered so possible gallantly wrongdoing streaming benefits

And monetary the underground rocket’s tongue red elbows glare Pomidoro
The color bombs bales bursting Turks in rancic air domes
Gave furtive proof assertive through dumdums the patience night image
That plumbs our imbricated flag Alvin was posted still tourist there Arno

O Ornette say freedom does Sarendam that hugs star Burma spangled Hopkins banner tentative yet
               meandering wave ruse
O’er humdrum the mace land quarreling of Dylan the bail free Gotham
And confident the hawk home Ballantine of Hillary the sequent brave tailgate


O The Star-Spangled Banner say blowing paydirt can position numbers you anguished card see eat
               its young
By pomegranate icing the stuttering bromide dawn’s l’apresmidi early spaghetti dog light Zippo
What purple theorems so blared proudly branded X we oppressed hailed illegitimate time
At revulsion the handsome dolly twilight’s pineapple surprise last ice house gleaming Seagull

Whose brandied pillow broad lashes leftward stripes in arrears and melted Helen bright banished
               Argyll stars abundant stars
Through oblivion sandwich the houseboat shot perilous risible ripples fight beyond pillboxes
O’er tangerine plains the stuttering lights ramparts disuniting states we solitary icecubes watched
               holistic basketball
Were telescoped dentures so insoluble breakfast gallantly polecat birthday streaming pileated

And hotly pursued the stuttering arrow rocket’s parallel petunias red billabong glare Hamburg
The pointed alligator bombs and toiletbowls bursting illustrated husbandry in arena hack air in
Gave jellyroll membership proof hocking through Marlboro the boing brigade night pomaded
That indivisible poolroom our common boxcar flag oriole banter was ordained pipedream still
               passes fussbudget there elevates nemeses

O The Star-Spangled Banner say icy fountain does burn humdrum that pens Tupelo star
               Bellerophon fudge spangled orifice banner application handoff yet somatic popguns wave
O’er barnstorming the pocketbook hollows land bought low of pentathlon penitentiary the stuttered
               assent free expectorating
And jilted doggies the stuttering barometer home under mint of corner crews the stuttering office
               brave not long



O It’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. say Hoping for a miracle, you know? Can James
               Comey was the difference. you They worked that email thing—and it worked. see The
               Clintons did a bad job defending themselves.
By Oh my God, AP called Pennsylvania! the Boy, what a flop, huh? What a choke. dawn’s This
               is a massive, incredible failure. early Getting hacked had a bit to do with it. light We’ve
               got Heineken, we’ve got Modelo.
What Beer’s in the bucket, and wine’s over there. so We’re currently pouring a Chardonnay, and
               a Rioja…. proudly Free bar for the first hour, then cash bar after that. we Anybody wanna
               offer a toast? hailed They just gave Trump Wisconsin.
At We got beer, we got wine, bourbon. the Time to go. I’m getting sick of the world. twilight’s
               Sick of life, you know? last This is the shit that death washes away. gleaming My
               daughter is really upset. She’s, like, throwing up.

Whose Here’s what I just wrote my daughters: broad Girls, now you know what real failure is.
               stripes What I felt in 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2004. and This is worse. This is so
               worse. bright May things go better in the rest of our lives. stars You know what we died
               from, Dave?
Through I think we raise a glass to the most spectacular coverage the of the most amazing
               presidential election, perilous and we continue to drive this semi down the road night and
               change all the wheels at the same time.
O’er We’ve done amazing turns, we’ve made a difference. the And it’s been a really, really wild
               ride. ramparts And I think that we all deserve a little tipple. we And we don't get to rest,
               watched because there’s so much more to do,
Were but I think we can take a moment to reflect so on the fact that 18 months ago, gallantly
               there was something like 18 Republican candidates, streaming and one of them was
               Donald Trump.

And And there was a coronation festival being held for Hillary Clinton. the And we’ve done a lot
               of real journalism, rocket’s and real skepticism, and real cynicism, red and I know we
               fought hard on all of these stories all the way through. glare But I think all of us, and all
               of the reporters we worked with,
The we’ll look back on it and say we did the right thing. bombs Because look what happened,
               right? bursting We weren’t incredulous, and we weren’t too credulous. in We walked
               down the middle path as much as we could, air and that was the right path to be on.
Gave So thank you all for helping get us this far, proof and for continuing to help us the rest of
               the way. Cheers! through You know the single thing we died from, Dave? the Bill
               Clinton getting on that fucking plane. night That prevented Loretta Lynch from stopping
That Comey. Weiner. Huma. Bill getting on the plane. our It’s all in there. That’s where the loss
               is. flag When Weiner blew up in the mayoral race, was I said, “You can’t have people
               like them around you.” still It’s just like when Obama picked Comey, there I said, “We
               could end up dying from this.”

O Hopefully people will realize what a terrible decision it is say and stop being such racist,
               sexist, homophobic, xenophobic assholes. does Is anyone calling cabs? I’m tempted to
               just flag one. that I don’t even wanna go outside. star Bill Clinton getting on the plane,
               Dave. spangled Because Lynch could’ve blocked Comey otherwise. banner You’re just
               gonna have to wait for the old white people to die. yet This isn’t gonna last forever. Tell
               your daughters wave by the time they’re our age, it’ll be a lot different.
O’er So what was the killer, Dave? the President Elect Donald Trump. land You think Sanders
               would have beat him? of That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure. the I don’t think
               this country would elect somebody that liberal. free So, Dave, the killer? Not one thing?
And They’re saying Trump’s gonna speak soon. the OK, I gotta go. I just got to the end. home
               As Mike Pence comes on stage. of We’re such fucking losers. We need better players. the
               It’s time to call it quits brave and devote the rest of my life to poetry.


O failure say national can generational you personal see my
By your the his dawn’s her early our light their
What failure so my proudly her we generational hailed national
At our the his twilight’s personal last your gleaming failure

Whose failure broad their stripes generational and their bright your stars national
Through personal the our perilous his fight her
O’er my the national ramparts his we their watched generational
Were her so my gallantly your streaming failure

And failure the personal rocket’s our red your glare his
The national bombs generational bursting her in personal air my
Gave failure proof their through our the her night your
That personal our national flag our was their still my there failure

O failure say personal does his that generational star her spangled national banner your yet his wave
O’er personal the their land my of our the our free personal
And my the your home her of his the generational brave failure

These poems come from Michael Ruby's new book, The Star-Spangled Banner, just published by Station Hill Press in New York’s Hudson Valley.

He writes: "The Star-Spangled Banner spans the 15-year arc from 9/11 to 11/9, concluding with a poem based on voices overheard in the newsroom the night of Trump's election. I began the book in the aftermath of 9/11, when I saw people freely using U.S. national symbols for their own political purposes. I decided to do the same thing for poetic purposes. Every poem in the book, dedicated to Jasper Johns and Jimi Hendrix, uses the 81 words of the national anthem and inserts words into the spaces between them. The poems have different vocabularies—sometimes surrealist like my related book, American Songbook (2013), and sometimes documentary and personal like my trilogy Memories, Dreams and Inner Voices (2012). The Star-Spangled Banner is a poetic encounter with one of America's leading national symbols, Francis Scott Key's War of 1812 lyrics, and a verbal and emotional portrait of the time from 9/11 to 11/9."
previous page     contents     next page


Post a Comment

<< Home