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I’m trying so hard to change things/but I can’t even get the blood off my hands

October 16, 2011

You think of the Adorno quote as you sit in the basement freezing, sobbing. You have been reading page after page of TRC reports. How is there poetry? There is no poetry. There is just report after report of death, of dying, of killing. There is no poetry. How could there be poetry? Of all things, poetry? No. You have no words to describe what you are reading, no words to describe what you are feeling.


Now you are sick and, literally, voiceless. It makes sense in a way, you’ve felt stunned into silence over the last few days.


You are surprised you are even able to write this. You are surprised you are even able to write this in English. You cannot believe that English can suffice for all or any of the many daily tasks you must carry out. How does language even begin to approach ‘adequacy’? It is a wonder that language suffices.



Me siento desprotegido en esa lengua ahora. Tengo miedo. Tanto miedo, demasiado miedo.


No puedo decirle a nadie.


(una mentira)



[“There is an absence here but nothing missing


Something I wanted, maybe, to tell you.”]



I’m not feeling safe in any language lately. I’m sure this is because I’m seeing language stretched to its limits, watching in wonder, horror, fascination as it is used to express that which is almost impossible to put into words.


When you don’t have the words, you make them up. In this way, language evolves. We do too. We learn new ways of conceiving of pain, of loss. We learn how to effectively transmit this pain and loss. We make sure others are at least aware that these horrors exist, even if they cannot face them the way we have.


“We”. Us writers, us liars. Those of us who need to tell and retell in order to live.



No tengo las palabras, aun ahora. No tengo las palabras en esta lengua, cualquier lengua.


Pero, estoy tratando. Cada dia, tratando.


I’d rather talk to you without using my words, this time. I think you know what I’m saying. Language breaks down but we don’t have to. There may be nothing to say, no way to say it, but I want you to know how I’m feeling, that I’m feeling. Because I am. I’m feeling. I’m thinking. I can’t put it into words but I am sure I’d be able to show you exactly what I mean.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kim permalink
    October 17, 2011 1:12 am

    perhaps when we don’t see poetry, it is at it’s most brilliant?

  2. October 17, 2011 1:21 am

    It’s always a shock that words are not enough. Plus, like E.E. Cummings said, feeling is always first.

  3. October 17, 2011 12:12 pm

    That last paragraph/stanza is killing me, and I love it. Thank you for feeling.

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