Poem: "Jerry Mirskin and Paul Cody, December 2, 2001" by Bridget Meeds '91
They’ve arrested that father in Romulus,
charged him with arson and murder.
On the news, he’s yanked away in handcuffs,
angular with anger and grief.
Paul, burly in a cardigan, reads about a dying man.
Jerry reads edgy poems about his new wife.
And while they read, I wonder, where’s the wall?
What does this fence look like,
the barrier a man climbs over, or a group of men,
in the middle of the night, carrying a gas can or plane tickets,
what is the name of this high river they ford
when they think no one is watching?
Jerry talks about a dog he saw,
a hungry black dog gussied up
in a purple neck bandanna,
roaming loose around the Farmers Market.
And then he’s off to another poem,
but I’m still with that dog,
lurking near the free-range chicken stand,
intent, gleeful, unpredictable, thrilling,
a question mark of appetite.
He weaves among the baby strollers,
wildness rising, kept in check—just—
by the blissful crowd.
—from Audience: a long poem; Ithaca: Vista Periodista, 2007
"My book Audience contains poems I wrote in response to performances I attended over the year following September 11, 2001. I wrote this poem after attending a reading by Ithaca College faculty members Jerry Mirskin and Paul Cody, whose work I admire. In it I am thinking about men and violence—in the work of the writers; in a local tragedy where a father burned down his house, killing his wife and four young children; and in the actions of the 9/11 terrorists." —Bridget Meeds
Ithaca-based Bridget Meeds is the author of the long poem Light, about a year working in a pizzeria in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Tuning the Beam, about a month as a poet-in-residence at a laboratory for high-energy particle physics. Her most recent collection, Audience, was published in 2007.