by Veronica Golos
Veronica Golos is the author of Vocabulary of Silence (Red Hen Press, 2011), and winner of the 2011 New Mexico Book Award. Her poetry immerses us in everyday beauty – the line of sheets drying amidst hollyhocks and russian sage – while tearing away the illusion that we, as Americans, are somehow uniquely entitled to our gardens. Her poetry doesn’t allow the comfortable notion of distance, that war is something that happens across the ocean to “others.” A mother and father’s love for their child is the same in America, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Palestine, or Vietnam. Children all across this fragile globe are equally entitled to security and peace.
When asked to talk about her award winning book and the reasons she joined Writing for Peace, Veronica had this to say:
Vocabulary of Silence is a book of poems of witnessing-from-afar. It is an effort not to escape the trial of what the country into which I was born is wreaking upon Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gaza, and its own countrymen and women. But I mean the poems to be poems, that is, to have some song in them, to have passion, music, truth in them. To be crafted. The Bop (k)not: Juba! Juba! poem is in a new form, The Bop, devised by poet Afaa Michael Weaver. Bop(K)not: Juba! Juba! was first published in Pemmican Press, and is included in Vocabulary of Silence. (The Bop is a poetic form of recent invention, created by African-American poet Afaa Michael Weaver.)
I am glad to be part of the Writing for Peace organization. What could be more important? The entire world seems to be spinning toward war, with the United States invading, occupying, and being the colonial empire. I do think that Writing for Peace, and also the idea of localized peace effort, is a wonderful one.
Bop (k)not: Juba! Juba!
problem…roses. You’re hanging the just-washed clothes in the stringent sun,
the hollyhocks sigh their deep sighs as they lean their heavy stems against the wall,
the first lavender iris has come and gone, the russian sage is sunning itself. The wild
roses multiply, base and prickly, their bunched pink faces exhale a perfume to make you
giddy as you flip the wet sheets over the ropeline you’ve strung from fence to tree.
The birds are almost speaking. You are happy. Juba!
Juba: A city in southern Sudan on the White Nile River;
formerly, in the American South, a lively rustic dance with much “clapping and thigh-slapping,” the word Juba! repeated as a refrain;
an elaborate flounce, lacey twirl-swirl soft plated spin-spiral pine design of overlap:
the Golden Mean. I mean: I part the leaves of the flower,
lift one then another & another to find the seam, flotsam of my dreams,
and there she is, the girl running to me, her face of chaste petals
tearing, her puregirl mons venus-bomb-napalm-photo-run—
I am strung
between Juba! and sorrow-song—
Juba: A city in Sudan on the White Nile River;
in America’s South, dance with much “hand clapping, thigh-slapping,” Juba! repeated;
the brazen sun revolving, stroking and spilling over me & the wide-mouthed poppies,
the buzz-hum iridescence of birdwhirling—what rises here I can barely name, how is it possible, this Juba!? No—nong qua! nong qua! her Vietnamese girl-voice
clicks, too hot too hot—no—I say back, I love the sun—nong qua! nong qua!
she moans – I turn – I can’t turn away – she is here in my garden…
how will I turn back – nonq qua! – how? to my Juba! again?
Juba: Sudan. White Nile. Dance, clap Juba! Repeat.
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