BURNING THE NEWS
A discussion by Rhina Espaillat
Turco’s imagery, like his listening — always riveting, whatever it turns to — becomes most persuasive and affecting when its focus is the individual caught in the act of changing, of moving through those finely-drawn landscapes and becoming suddenly aware of his own passage through time. A kind of hopeless longing flickers in such poems as “Burning the News,” which begins with these eerily timely lines:
The fire is eating
the paper. The child who drowned
is burned. Asia is in flames.
As he signs his great
bill, a minister of state chars
at the edges and curls
into smoke. The page rises,
glowing, over our neighbor's
roof. In the kitchens
clocks turn, pages turn like gray wings,
slowly, over armchairs.
Another child drowns, a bill
is signed, and the pen blackens.
The smoke of Asia
drifts among the neighbors like mist.
It is a good day for burning.
The fire is eating the news.
Although more recent poems, like the author’s own words in conversation, acknowledge grave disappointment with human beings and their behavior toward each other and the planet, what this poem suggests is that disappointment is often the child of high hope and frustrated devotion.
For an animated reading of this poem, go to
from Fearful Pleasures,The Complete Poems of Lewis Turco 1959-2007, 2 May 2007, http://www.StarCloudPress.com, copyright © 2007 by Lewis Turco. All rights reserved.