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poetry The Wall (running the changes)

New York poet Philip Fried traces the evolution of THE WALL, “the quintessential barrier/for keeping the future out and the past in.”

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The Wall (running the changes)

... begins as a whisper in the orator's ear,

a wisp of concretion, a mere mnemonic standing

for all who are toxic and alien, all who are banding

together to break in and make us chant, "Build the Wall!"

The Wall is invisible but substantial, with "bricks"

made of water vapor, dust, feathers, and soot,

whatever macro and micro particles float

in the air. The Wall is both there and not there.

Each day's devoted to the walling out

of those who incessantly want to come in; however,

there's no getting around our intention to bar

their entrance. The Wall is our collective will.

Walls differ in their national character.

The Manifest Destiny of the American Wall

is horizontal but also vertical.

From the molten core, it rises to reach a star.

The Platonic Ideal of Wall can never be equaled

in this world. But let it inspire us to imagine

running our fingers over its unending

heavenly high-early-strength solidity.

The Wall is a political-quantum particle

that is simultaneously pure metaphor

and palpable concrete. The ingenious leader

presents this as an essential uncertainty.

It's debatable whether the rubble around the Wall

represents the remains of anti-Wall anarchy

or of those who failed to make it through, or debris

that embodies and forebodes the Wall's future.

Call it what you will — potpourri, concoction

of concrete, slatted steel, concertina wire —

The Wall is the quintessential barrier

for keeping the future out and the past in.

Philip Fried's seventh book of poetry, Squaring the Circle, was published by Salmon Poetry, Ireland in 2017. Salmon is bringing out his next book, Among the Gliesians, in the spring of 2020.