April 2003

James Longenbach

I felt like a boy again, my navel flat as a dime—
The glamour of protest, however compromised,

Our certainty old people were wrong.
Poetry is against war or else it isn't poetry

Said my friend the poet, as if by breathing
We were glamorous. 

War was the air we breathed.
The swan has leaped into a desolate heaven

Said the poet of Responsibilities.
It has no program and cannot be joined.

As a boy I never liked my body
But I knew a lot of songs.

James Longenbach was an American poet and critic. His books include Earthling and How Poems Get Made.
Originally published:
September 1, 2010

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