Feature > Poetry
Alan Shapiro

Alan Shapiro

Alan Shapiro has published ten books of poetry, most recently Old War, which won the 2009 Ambassador Book Award. His new book of poems, Night of the Republic, will appear in fall of 2011 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. His first novel, Broadway Baby, will also appear in fall of 2011 from Algonquin Books. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Shapiro is William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dialogue

If the abyss alone surrounds us,

                                                                    Bounds us

Comes out of everywhere to find us,

                                                                    Remind us

Of what we can neither think about

                                                                    Nor live without

The thought of, how then do we live?

                                                                    We live

Day after day, we sleep we wake  

                                                                    We make

Do with what we do until we don't.

                                                                    Or won't

So what will leave me when I die?

                                                                    I

And what will replace me in this place?

                                                                    Space

But if that's true then what can matter?

                                                                    Matter

But how did I get from that to this?

                                                                    Miraculous

Random swirl of particles

                                                                    That chills

And burns in an ever-changing state

                                                                    Indeterminate

In every way but in the making

                                                                    Unmaking,

Of what it is, then isn't, here

                                                                    Or there

In each unlikely curl and angle—

                                                                    Angel

Of no thought thinking itself through us,

                                                                    Dust

We cling to, kill for, deplore or yearn,

                                                                    Urn

Of nothing and to nothing prey—

                                                                    Pray

For something more than bleak repose

                                                                    That knows

That not much given to us to trust to

                                                                    Must do.

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