What is Left

Marcia Karp

We think it is new. We are so, so afraid.
We think there has never been, ever been,
a thing like our thing. So, we are so afraid.

Just think.
A village rapes a girl.
A village burns a man.

Here is the maelstrom.
Here is the horror.
People we like are like people we don’t.

It is our turn to live it and not know what hit us.
It is our turn for mayhem that droppeth as rain.
It is our turn to cry we are virtue’s last bastion
while mayhem and help us turn us into them.

She is twelve and they rape that girl over and over.
That collar of tire, which then becomes fire,
is fitted by many hands to one neck.

Nobody taught us. We know how to do it.
We shout and we leap, for our lives, to some standing.
It is you. No, not I. Yes and no no no. Help us.

We say that that thing
is loosed
from another town over.

O tut tut. Just think.
It is ours and is us.

What is left for our thing when havoc’s in swing but to sing?

Marcia Karp

Marcia Karp’s poems and translations have appeared in Oxford Magazine, the Times Literary Supplement, the Warwick Review, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, Agenda, Literary Imagination, Seneca Review, the Guardian, the Republic of Letters, and Partisan Review. Her work is also included in the anthologies: Penguin Books’ Catullus in English and Petrarch in English, Joining Music with Reason: 34 Poets, British and American, Oxford 2004–2009 (Waywiser, 2010), and The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation (Norton, 2010).


We think it is new. We are so, so afraid. We think there has never been, ever been, a thing like our thing. So, we are so afraid. Just think. A village rapes a girl. A village burns a man. Here is the maelstrom. Here is the horror. People we like are like people we …

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