Poetry Parnassus: Entering America (New Zealand)

Poetry Parnassus is a project of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, hosted at the Southbank Centre in London. It ran from June 26 to July 1, featuring 145 poets from around the world. Here is the Guardian’s interactive map, where you can click on a country and read its poem. I will be posting them on a semi-regular basis until they’re done.

Entering America, by Bill Manhire (New Zealand)

A line of men, tipped forward, stumbling.
They are taking off their shoes.

This is how you enter America:
under a gun and a stare.

Where a bastard is free to be a big bastard!
You can be sure of a welcome here!

And these men all in line,
coming home in their suits,

with deals in their pockets, with phones-beyond-phones,
whose tired feet have swollen their way
soared through the heavens –

are made to show the occasional toe,
not to mention their socks,

with those little designs at the ankles,
often, I believe, called ‘clocks’.

• ‘Entering America’ from Lifted (Carcanet Press, 2007),
© Bill Manhire 2005, 2007.

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