Convention Hall

There was the amplified and echoing

“optimistic hatred of the actual”

that every flag waving

to make it so kept

waving to the joyous rhythm of

even after

in the docile chaos of a

confetti of balloons

tumbling out of darkness

high above the lights.

Look at Us, the anthem,

Look at Us, the shield,

the sacrifice –

but look

at how unfillable

the cavern of the Great Hall is,

more vacant and silent

for the stage dismantled,

the massive absence

of the cheering and singing; look

at how the last of us,

our delegate

torch in hand

sleepwalks in patrol

patrolling nothing

like a soldier “in the

midst of doubt, in

the collapse of creeds”

who doesn’t know

the war has ended,

behind enemy lines

no longer there,

obedient to “a cause

he little understands,

in a campaign

of which he has

no notion, under

tactics of which

he doesn’t see the use”–

moving in darkness

from light to smaller light

along the catwalks

through the tunnels

over the swept floor

to the farthest exit sign.

(To return to the Summer 2011 Table of Contents, click here. For an attractively formatted, ready-to-print PDF of this article, click here.)

Alan Shapiro is a poet and professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of nine poetry books, including Tantalus in Love, Song and Dance, and The Dead Alive and Busy. He received the Kingsley Tufts Award and the Los Angeles Book Prize. He was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2005, Shapiro won the North Carolina Book Award for poetry, for Tantalus In Love.

Source Citation

Shapiro, Alan. 2011. Convention Hall. Tikkun 25(1): 12.

tags: Poetry   
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