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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 10, Number 4, December 2016
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Charles Tarlton
Northampton, Massachusetts, USA


Righteousness

I hate them with perfect hatred:
I count them mine enemies.

                  —Psalm 139:22

Some questions we ask only at places like the seashore, as if there were secrets, and the answers were to be found beneath the rhythms of the waves (it is the same, I think, in the midst of a hard rain). I was at the shore, though, watching children playing in a tide pool in the rocks, the ocean floor in miniature, and they jumped violently into the pool, scattering the tiny crabs and stirring up the sand in clouds. Everywhere there is a kind of perfection we cannot possess, cannot own, so we destroy it as we might annihilate enemies—a thrush’s nest, a butterfly, the flawless anthill, paper thin ice on a puddle on the path, a spider’s miraculous web.

poetry’s job is
drawing lines of connection
between our feelings
and the world, how we see it
just the ways it makes us feel

the psychology
we find reflected in art
isolates the small
perceptions, makes them enlarge
until we feel sympathy

it is opposite
to war and wanton hatred
makes us see the small
things, tiny delicacies
arranged in their perfection

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