Pantoum

By Sasha Steensen b. 1974 Sasha Steensen
Perhaps the universe is an extinguished building
with blue banners strung along
and the forest, more like a commodity
bordering bushes and asphalt,
 
something else to string our blue banners on.
Never was restoration swifter:
the leafless trees, the asphalt
less splintered and more splendid.
 
Never was restoration swifter
with its mightier solutions,
less splintered and more splendid
snipers, dynamiters, colorful bombs.
 
We please ourselves with mightier solutions,
picnics under blue spruces
snipers, dynamiters, colorful bombs
the guardians of what we might call “home rights.”
 
At picnics, under blue spruces
we clamor after the news
and its employees, the guardians of “home rights”
“the media” mustering “one mind.”
 
It’s news,
the decision to nobly save rather than meanly lose
some pretense of mustering “one mind”
secures its truth.
 
The decision to nobly save rather than meanly lose
our flag
secures its truth
as a squirrel secures its nuts by hiding them in the ground.
 
Our flag—
a souvenir of having been here before
a squirrel’s nuts, deep in the ground.
But travel, travail, and The Method’s mistakes
 
all souvenirs of having been here before,
haunt us and taunt us and call us names. 
But travail, travel, and Method’s mistakes
mark a different season, nuts rotting, bulbs blooming.
 
Each season haunts us and taunts us and calls us names
until finally the universe is an extinguished building,
a different season, nuts rotting, bulbs blooming
and the forest, a commodity.

Sasha Steensen, “Pantoum” from The Method. Copyright © 2008 by Sasha Steensen. Reprinted by permission of Sasha Steensen.

Source: The Method (Fence Books, 2008)

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Poet Sasha Steensen b. 1974

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Nature, Trees & Flowers, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Pantoum

Biography

Poet Sasha Steensen grew up in rural Ohio and Las Vegas. She earned a BA and an MFA at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a PhD in poetics at SUNY Buffalo. She is the author of several collections of poetry, including House of Deer (2014), The Method (2008), and A Magic Book (2004), which won the Alberta DuPont Bonsal Prize, as well as several chapbooks, including the collaboration Correspondence: For La Paz (2004) with . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Trees & Flowers, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Pantoum

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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