Poem: Amen

Poem: Amen

- in Automotive
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It makes sense that an expert on the essential principles of creation would conjure poems that help readers shift and expand their visions. In his fifth graceful collection of poetry, Stuart Kestenbaum, who was the longtime director of a famous crafts school, makes poems from groups of words given to him by friends and students, successfully mixing and marinating tastes and implications until stanzas emerge. “Amen,” a more traditionally written poem, still suggests sharper cognition. You could begin anywhere. Refresh the very room you’re sitting in. You could look out the window again, that same old window, and really notice something this time. Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye

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By Stuart Kestenbaum

It’s easy to ignore the moment we dwell in
the time when we should be our own choir

shouting amen to every second that’s given us
but we forget and think only of the machinery

that’s driving our lives, the idling
engines of our day-to-day-to-day, the endless

tapping on the keyboards. Or else we’re waiting
for something better to come along, some

out-of-town engagement better than where we
are now. Life isn’t some film we can review again,

it’s live theater, and even if we could go back
what’s the point? Sitting in the darkened room

with the film ticking along and we reverse
the projector and see ourselves

returning in the car before we’ve ever left
walking backwards to our house

or leaping out of the water
we thought we were swimming in.


Stuart Kestenbaum has been poet laureate of Maine since 2016. His most recent book, “How to Start Over,” was published by Deerbrook Editions in 2019. Naomi Shihab Nye is the 2019-21 Young People’s Poet Laureate of the Poetry Foundation, Chicago. Her most recent book is “The Tiny Journalist,” published by BOA Editions.

Illustration by R.O. Blechman

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