[Table of Contents]


Steven J. Stewart


According to my dentist, the best midwife
is a son learning piano. The miracles he works
transcend childbirth and leave you glassy
through the war zone movements.
In higher altitudes, nothing is played
but gospel music and time, and each lasts
a violent death. Sometimes you hear echoes
of world war: a high road to heaven like a camel’s
walk through sand. The top 1 percent of
economists sing without voices. The result is perfect
dispassion, a mandate to execute fifty-six people.
Tonelessness slides into the world on the faces
of tall soldiers or saints. Blank-faced like
an industrialized nation still in its infancy. The best
babies are placed on their stomachs, where
they listen to Chopin and misunderstand ethnicity
(but never heartbeats). Life goes on together
in what we think is music. You can even connect
the notes: look at your son’s sleek body and wet
curly hair—he plays only for playing’s sake.

(after Jane Hirshfield)


So Much Trouble in the World" is a sort of collage with a Jane Hirshfield poem at its base. While there's a lot of political commentary there, I think it is, like any good poem, a sort of prayer.