Salamander 2024 Fiction Contest

SUBMIT: May 1 through June 2, 2024 | READING FEE: $15


Razor Zigzag: I Don’t Remember

Daniel Bouchard
| poetry


I don’t remember when the last survivor
+of the Ludlow Massacre died. A story online
disappeared, and I don’t remember when.

I don’t remember the type of shoe
+unscripted and airborne
the president ducked when visiting Baghdad.

Threads of history surround us
some thick like steel cables
some like gossamer, living tissue

Oil rises from the harbor bottom
where the bombed ship sank at its mooring
+beside the memorial to lost lives.

I don’t remember the name of Cindy Sheehan’s son.
No one wants to talk about the Iraq War
+and history might say why
but like Williams said you got to ask hard.

Things I don’t remember
+derived from things I didn’t know
and places I’ve never seen
+compounded by items
I may have read or heard
+and now struggle to remember.

I think I remember pallets of cash,
+billions of dollars flown to Baghdad,
early in the invasion,
+wrapped with stretchy plastic
that any warehouse worker would recognize
+and nylon straps to keep the piles from toppling.
And all that money
+just vanished
into rucksacks and suitcases and duffel bags
+of officials and gangsters, conmen and hitmen.

History is written, that’s why
+Bic gave us ink, after the animals
were named and nicknamed.

Writing brings history to mind
+and death is a form of forgetting
surely the highest form
+and much ends as flotsam in a racing tide.

If the past were stones on the ground,
+bedrock outcroppings, and gradations
of mineral and gravel, how is my
+relationship explained
by walking home at the end of the day?

Daniel Bouchard’s poetry collections include Spider Drop (Subpress), The Filaments (Zasterle Press), and Some Mountains Removed. His chapbook Art and Nature was published by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2014. Recent poems have appeared in The Nation, The Brooklyn Rail, and BOMB(online).

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