I Will Not Save the World

By Jerome Rothenberg b. 1931 Jerome Rothenberg
I like to cross
these borders. They take place
between the dead & dead.
I make my mind up
to be honest
only I fail to meet
their expectations.
I will not save the world.
The power in my blood
runs through my shoe.
I have never known fatigue
but know it now. I whistle
& the dog sits still
& ponders.
Nobody else is resting
or in love.
The taste of death is in my mouth.
I suck it like an arm
until it breaks me.
It is the fate of animals
& birds
the small lives left behind.
The children in the woods
run by like children.
I hide under a blanket
sick with counting.
Two & two are five
but two times two
is always four.
Call me tomorrow
—says the voice—
& I will call you back.
I am a net for all
voracious fish                           (E. Södergran)
& long for hell.

"I Will Not Save the World" By Jerome Rothenberg, from A Book of Witness: Spells and Gris-Gris, copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 by Jerome Rothenberg. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Source: A Book of Witness: Spells and Gris-Gris (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2003)

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Poet Jerome Rothenberg b. 1931


Subjects Living, Death


Jerome Rothenberg's publishing career began in the late 1950s as a translator of German poetry, first for Hudson Review and then for City Lights Books. Founding Hawk's Well Press in 1959, Rothenberg used it as a venue to publish collections by some of the up-and-coming poets of the era, including Diane Wakoski and Robert Kelly. He also self-published his first book of poems, White Sun Black Sun, under the Hawk's Well imprint. . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Death


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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