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Dream Song #17

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They took my body to the forest
They asked me to climb a ladder

I did not want to climb a ladder
But they forced me to climb the ladder

If you don’t climb the ladder
we will bury you in the foamy mud

I had to decide: should I die
by hanging or by burial

I climbed the ladder and they wrapped
a belt around the thick limb of a tree

And then when I could no longer breathe
they tossed me into a stream

And I floated to the edge of the village
where someone prayed for my soul

It’s like this in a lullaby
for the end of the world:

The options for the end
are endless

But this is not really a lullaby
for the end of the world

It’s about the beginning
what happens when we start to rot

in the daylight
The way the light shines on

the ants and worms and parasites
mauling our bodies

It’s about the swarms of dogs
gnawing our skin and bones

Do you know what it’s like
when a ghost licks your intestines

Do you know what it’s like
when a rat devours your brain

To avoid the hole
the children must sing sweetly, softly

To avoid the hole
they must fill their songs with love
Source: Poetry (May 2014)
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Dream Song #17

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  • Daniel Borzutzky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, of Chilean heritage. He has published a collection of fiction, Arbitrary Tales (2005), a poetry chapbook, Failure in the Imagination (2007), and three full-length volumes of poetry: The Performance of Becoming Human (2016), The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011), and The Ecstasy of Capitulation (2007). 

    Borzutzky’s work is often humorous and satirizes political figures and contemporary culture. Amy Groshek, reviewing The Ecstasy of Capitulation for CutBank, commented: “His syntactic strategies mirror closely those of absurdist poets, but he cleverly injects thin strings of narrative, using historical events and speakers, and the tone of these speakers, to give his poems coherence. His specialty is a manic, obsessive jargon peppered with legalisms, bureaucratic and corporate newspeak, and a positively twenty-first century fanaticism.”

    Borzutzky has translated a number of works by Chilean writers, including the poet Jaime Luis Huenún’s Port Trakl (2008) and the fiction of Juan Emas, published in a special...

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