Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Curriculum Vitae


There is good

to believe

indicative of future



The past is
one thing after
another, one thing

at a time, and one
thing (a Swallow, say) does
not make Spring. But turning and

turning and turning is
another thing.

In time, this thing and that is all one
needs to draw a line. And where

there is a line, there is
no end to the points
to be made in passing.


Everybody knows
the past is not



It all comes back
to me. When I
was fifty, I

went to Lhasa. On
the way, I

passed the hut
where Du Fu lived. I

circled Jokhang Temple
the year after I

returned to
Karelia looking

for cold clear light.


and time

again. I
was forty when

I wandered



before Wenceslas
Square, which brings

to mind lines
that never

meet and lines
that make a point

of passing through, what
makes a Spring. Who

says we

in Euclidean space?

I was not
thirty when

I stood in Highgate

after Red

after the Castle
Church in Wittenberg

after a party in Weimar
to begin my thirtieth year.


to begin

the third ten
the Black Hills

thinking myself
on the moon

passing through
the Badlands

on the way
to Colorado.

Later, I heard
the war had really

ended after
I had passed

through the desert
on the way to some mountain.

have been

unpaving the road
outside my

since seven
this morning.

The window
is open, Gwendolyn,

because everybody knows
by now there is a poem out there.


The past
returns, the future

is theater. No
promise but Spring,

no idea what we
mean by we, where

I will find myself
this time tomorrow.

Chicago, 28 June 2013

©Steven Schroeder
[from the moon, not the finger, pointing. Lamar University Press, 2016]
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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Turing Test

Eavesdropping in a language you
don’t really know is an etude
for imagination, an elementary
exercise you run through
again and again as a beginner
on the instrument until
the fragments you master
resemble wholes long after
the people you live with are
tired of hearing them repeated —
to have a familiar ring, a theme
you can make new on your
own instrument.

                    Like a conversation
in an imperfect tongue. You keep
your part to yourself so it sounds
for all the world like silence, like
you’re not there, like your presence is
nothing more than an interval between
strange words. You know as much when
you overhear as when you are expected
to play a part. The role is acting

absent, catching bits and pieces so
you can pretend you know
what’s going on.

©Steven Schroeder

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Celebration of
syncopation, two
years late stutterstep
proclamation says

Makes you want to shout
Texas is undeniable.

Texas is undeniable.

Undeniable slow
like a stone in
the pocket of a
suicide who
takes the ocean in
her arms and waits.

Slow the way it dawns
on us to own human
human. Texas two step
everywhere. Celebrate
with something slow
like barbecue.

Lincoln, yes, and Gordon
Granger in Galveston. Carry
their proclamation in your
pocket. But never forget,
never forget that old man
down by Navasota:

You know
, he said, you know,
you still got the disease, honey.

I know you think you’re cured,
but you ain’t cured. Talkin’
‘bout givin’ me this, givin’ me
that, givin’ me somethin’ I was
born with same as you.

You cain’t give me the right to be
a human being. You cain’t give me
the right to be human. You can
keep it from me with your
police and your armies
and your dogs and your
money and your power.
But you cain’t

give it to me. You cain’t
give me somethin’I was
born with same as you.
You cain’t give me

somethin’ that’s already mine.

Texas two step
everywhere, slow
as a stone in the pocket
of a suicide waiting on water.
Slow as barbecue. Remember.

©Steven Schroeder

[the italicized quotation is from Remembering Slavery. Edited by Ira Berlin, Marc Favreau, and Steven F. Miller. The New Press, 1998, Appendix I, p.330, transcript of Smithsonian Production's radio documentary of the same title, produced by Jacquie Gales Webb and Kathie Farnell.]

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Friday, June 03, 2016

at the Union Miners Cemetery

Standing in this field of tombstones in a rising wind
on the road from Alabama to the promised land,
you'd think the whole damn planet
was a burial ground waiting

for what will be left
after the next massacre.

Every little inch, every
grain of dirt, every spot I walk,
the dead more present than the living.

Pray for the courage
to pray like hell

for the dead,
the serenity to fight

like hell for the living,
the wisdom to know

when it might make a difference.

©Steven Schroeder
[from turn, virtual artists collective, 2012]

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016


black and white, is not
following a wall, not
laying low, not

avoiding crossfire
on a south side street
in Chicago looking

south at ease
walking home slow


days later, looking
out the window of a bar
in Missouri, I see

the same cat still
walking still

slow, home


in a time like space,
I am too slow

to be there
and here

now. cat thinks nothing
of poets watching,

in the box that is

the object of his walking
slow home still, now and then

©Steven Schroeder

Friday, May 20, 2016

love the one you're with (a commentary on 1 Timothy)

Whoever wrote those letters to Timothy (not
Paul you can be certain) was
a worried man who saw

an Epicurean behind every bush or (worse)
a Gnostic. And he was pretty sure
more than a few

had their hands in both.
People, not things, had gotten
out of hand because his old master

was not inclined to think ahead
and let slip some ideas that had to be
qualified if you were planning to stick around

for a while and didn’t want the whole world
to go to hell in a handbasket. It is
a struggle for the soul

and, like it or not, this is a matter
of politics. That is to say
there is a city

to run, and when
people get out of line
it is sometimes necessary

(he thought) to be pitiless: someone
has to be the adult in the room.

This has me thinking that Jesus (like
Shelley and so many others)
died young. The old,

they say, cannot kill the young
forever. But we
can die

trying. What we need
to be is children

now. And
that bit the king’s men rendered love
of money has me thinking
what we mean

when we say we
and just

how radical
the soul can be.

In the eye of the king’s men,
the root is definite.
And they

do not give a second thought
when they say all

evil. Even a worried man
(like Luke, who knew
it was Paul who
invented this
city) can

How is this day
(un)like every other?

He said the Pharisees were lovers
of money (or so the king’s men
say). But everybody knows
that is not what they
loved. It was

what the king’s men always
call the Law, and that is
a question.

A lover of money is a fool like every
other lover, and you know what they say
about a fool and his money.

It is true that as a rule
every poet is a fool.

So one fool to another: Hell,
Timothy, if you think you
are in charge, play

the fool. And take a long look
at that joke Luke told when
he misremembered

what the Pharisees loved.
Don’t get too close to money,
try a little tenderness, and go easy

on capitals. Make yourself
at home, and never
forget your neighbor is

the one who needs you (and
you have been are now
and ever will be
the one).

©Steven Schroeder