#FavPo: If China

I was presented with the following twitter challenge. A literary magazine invited me by name to submit. I don’t know whether to be flattered or bemused by their recruitment strategy. (Was my name pulled by random from a hat of poets?) But it effectively drew my attention.

Rattle Magazine
@RattleMag
Publishing #poetry you can actually enjoy since 1995. All tweets by the editor. Tweet us your favorite poem (#FavPo) and we’ll follow you.

Los Angeles, CA · rattle.com

How do you tweet a poem? I’ve spent a lot of the last week trying to bend twitter to my will but I think that might be beyond my powers of persuasion. Unless your favorite poems are 140 character or less (including the author’s name) and mine are not. In fact the author of my favorite poem is Stanislaw Baranczak. His name alone elbows twitter limitations.

So I assume one way to meet the challenge is thusly. Post the poem and tweet the link. It might also be an excuse to create an Instagram account –to screenshot poems and post the images. I’m open to other suggestions. Soundcloud? Youtube video? Translate it to binary? For the moment here it is: my #Favpo

If China

If china, then only the kind
you wouldn’t miss under the movers’ shoes or the treads of a tank;
if a chair, then one that’s not too comfortable, or
you’ll regret getting up and leaving;
if clothes, then only what will fit in one suitcase;
if books, then those you know by heart;
if plans, then the ones you can give up
when it comes time for the next move,
to another street, another continent or epoch
or world:

who told you you could settle in?
who told you this or that would last forever?
didn’t anyone tell you you’ll never
in the world
feel at home here?

– Stanislaw Baranczak (from “Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness” edited by Carolyn Forché; poem translated by Magnus J. Krynski)

Tank graveyard - Kuwait
Tank graveyard. Broken china implied.
I chose the image of the tank graveyard –treads sans tank because I thought it both illustrated the alienation and exile exemplified in the poem but also my own interpretation that everything including war is impermanent. It requires our constant renewal. And hopefully, eventually the commitment not to.

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