“Grip” by Lauren Camp
Sure, I was afraid of the perfunctory fucks
of the person standing in grief
with a hand on the subway pole of the 3 train.
In my soft life, I don’t hear
such a dispatch
of crisp pitted slurs. The least thing I have
is disaster. After that, exposure.
Thugs trump love at these angles and cornices
where everyone knows the arc of exhaustion.
The train was confronted
with her spectacular angers, the cuff
of strange humor, her strutting language.
On Lenox toward 124th,
I emerged above ground, passing lamplight
and brick. I saw pigeons climb into holes.
Bags of garbage lay restless at curbs.
We do not choose what comes around to meet us.
Food smell and sewage in the half dark,
the wet heart of shoving and love in a place
filled with lashes and gates.
There is nothing more silencing
than the roar of each room
of this city. Every noise long, sharp,
doubled over, and I’m quiet but walking.
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Lauren Camp Artist Statement:
Arab American poet Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred
Hungers, winner of the Dorset Prize (Tupelo Press, 2016). One Hundred Hungers is a work of
imagination, research and myth about her father’s childhood in Baghdad and her interaction with
the rituals and language of his culture. Writer Margaret Randall has said, “More than simply
excellent poems, this book is an experience.”
Camp’s poems appear in numerous journals including New England Review, Poetry
International, Slice, Linebreak and Beloit Poetry Journal. Some of her poems have been
translated into Turkish, Mandarin and Spanish.
She is the recipient of the Dorset Prize, the 2014 RL International Poetry Award, an Anna
Davidson Rosenberg Award, and a Black Earth Institute Fellowship.
A long time radio producer, she produces and hosts “Audio Saucepan”—a global music program
interwoven with contemporary poetry—on Santa Fe Public Radio. www.laurencamp.com.