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Tonight

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tonight
my sparrows
let go
the snow
                                    into fields of carnations swollen with anger.

tonight
the three popes
proclaim
the revolution
                                    against teenage television.

seals smash
their heads
bloody
their heads
on the elevators
the paternoster elevators
                                    which delays the holding of their conference.

tonight
my sister
the wind's bride
gives blood
for the cello
of the jericho desert
                                    which prompts the trombones                                    
                                    to hold a protest meeting.

tonight
I hang your lips
like birdseed
outside my door
and observe
through the window
their death-struggle
with the she vulture.

tonight
let go
the snow

Source: Poetry (November 2007)

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

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Tonight

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  • Recipient of the 2004 Nobel Prize for Literature, Elfriede Jelinek is an Austrian poet, playwright, and novelist. Born to a Catholic-Viennese mother and a Jewish-Czech father in Mürzzuschlag, Styria, Jelinek grew up in Vienna and lost many members of her family to the Holocaust.

    Jelinek studied music intensively from an early age. She graduated from the Vienna Conservatory and studied theater and art history at the University of Vienna. In a 2004 interview Jelinek explained, “My training in music and composition then led me to a kind of musical language process in which, for example, the sound of the words I play with has to expose their true meaning against their will[,] so to speak.”

    She published her first collection of poetry, Lisas Schatten (1967), at the age of 21. Discussing the influence of writer H.C. Atrmann, founder of the Vienna Group, on her work, Jelinek said that “if you want...

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