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Upsettled! a poem

Celeste Ledesma's picture

By Celeste Ledesma

Listening can be an unsettling thing.

"God gave you two ears and one mouth
so you could do more listenin' than talkin',"
says Father so-and-so.
But listening to _______can be an unsettling thing.


don't listen
too hard.
That's when you feel unsettled.
That's when you notice something
is ________
Listen to the church organ blasting on Easter Sunday.
It's obscene.
Listen to creaking pews as mothers rock crying babies.
It's routine.
Listen to – Jesus and Father and Altar Boys
Basking in the attention we all devote;
Basking so deeply that Jesus and Father and Altar
Can't know
That we can't bear

Because listening can be an unsettling thing.

...and so now settle down, you
And remember to think about things
you should think about
at easter sunday mass, like
sitting and silence and singing and touching others' hands and plastic eggs hidden in grass
and of course,
the Word.

...and so now listen up, you,
Spake the tone in Father so-and-so's voice
and so I did
      because I forgot

          (or because I remembered)

How Blessed are we, for we are so unique in that we are the Chosen Ones by God Among All the other creature on the earth We were Chosen to do Gods Will and given the ability to show love
and compassion

and some other w o r d s
singing praises for humanity,
the superior species

in the Eyes of God

and i begin to feel
Large and small
at the same time;
i feel so (i don't know) and i want to—
(i don't know)

Why I am so upsettled?
I mean no...
No, yes, that's what I mean.
upsettled! what can I do with
But look into the eyes of Christ on the Cross,
Raised and sunken and burdened
But think about how
he's the chosen among Chosen,
But wonder if his eyes would
Not have been lowered instead
But wonder if they are not sunken
But softened instead
But wonder if they are not always swollen with burden
But simply beholding________________________________________________________.
But feel the need to
Follow his
           lowered eyes past
                 the stained glass rays
                                   of morning glow,
                                            past the iridescent voices
                                                              of the choir dancing on
                                                                              our shoulders

                                                                              until I realize

                                                                              that they are

                                                                              fixed upon a

                                                                              Lourdes Alvarez
                                                                              praying right beside me
Ella está rezando el padre nuestro en español

Even though no one else will join her

Even though no one else will notice her

Porque esta lengua
Es la major manera que sabe

Talk to
Su madre
Su perrito
Su Dios
las flores en su jardin
los jardineros de su universidad

y ademas

It's the way that she sings
Lullabies to her niece at night
So her words can sail
Upon the wind's back
And be kissed by the moon
Who has blessed
The nocturnal songs
Of her family
From Zacatecas
To Silenced Voices,

Where sometimes
We can't understand
What we're hearing
Until we


Anne Dalke's picture

I'm liking very much, Celeste, your decision to make this web event a poetic one, and also wanting very much to hear from you about the decisions you made in crafting it. I'm following the theme of listening (an important one to me--did you get to experience the performance of "Two Women Talking" that our 360° sponsored last semester? If not, you'll find some guidelines in Gabby Smith's Let's Chat). I'm also curious about your decision to locate that listening--and the difficulty of doing so--in a church on Easter Sunday. I'm curious, too, about the shift from "unsettling" to "upsetting." And I'm most curious to hear about how you were experimenting with poetic form as a "more ecological" (?) form of grammar and/or genre.