News Poetry: Make Shift

—on viewing a photograph by Hamza Al-Ajweh/AFP
Loveland Reporter-Herald, February 24, 2018

I thought it was a sculpture in progress,
clay, a commission, this figure of a man sitting,
to commemorate someone who had died.
A worker or labor leader, I thought, strong
facial bones, work clothes wrinkled and stained.
I couldn’t read his expression. The young men
in blue gathered around the figure were finalizing
the piece for the next step.
                                             The fingers
of the figure’s right hand were splayed
on his knee, but one finger had a splash of red.
The eyes, I noticed, had whites. I read the caption:
“A wounded Syrian man saved from the rubble.”
Then, the medical workers’ clear gloves shone
as they attended to a wound on his back
at the makeshift hospital. Not a lost-wax
process. No casting, no foundry. I thought
it was a sculpture, I thought he was clay.

Photo credit: Bala Sivakumar, Creative Commons, Flickr 
Veronica Patterson’s most recent full-length poetry collection is Sudden White Fan (Cherry Grove Collections, 2018). Others include How to Make a Terrarium (Cleveland State University, 1987), Swan, What Shores? (NYU Press Poetry Prize, 2000), Thresh & Hold (Gell Poetry Prize, 2009), & it had rained (CW Books, 2013), and two chapbooks—This Is the Strange Part (Pudding House, 2002) and Maneuvers: Battle of the Little Bighorn Poems (Finishing Line, 2013). She lives in Loveland, Colorado, where she writes, edits, and teaches creative writing for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.


  1. fine poem by a fine Colorado poet who will be attending the Gunnison Valley Poetry Festival next month and receiving the Karen Chamberlain Award for life-time achievement as a Colorado poet.

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