On video the shooter
        has shot and
flinches the shot
the police hitherto
        notified the
wrong man a suspect
        with his particular
way of appearing

through the beat-up
        world loose
leather jacket CB radio
        to his ear who-
ever exits now pursued
        by echoing foot-
fall after the shot after
        the ambulance
left television crews
        aspired to a broad

interpretive framework
        as the frame
aspired to be liminal
        to act as scheme
and sentence
        the authorities
wish we wouldn’t panic
        at the margins
the economy will
        flounder they say

on a smaller scale
        next time
if flounder it must
        a fish reconstructs
from association
        its familiar path
up the streambed
        like an antique
club of factionalism

to heredity we do not
        care where
the shot came from two
        planets colliding
was reason to stare
        at the sky
that we could thump
        on the railroad tie and
watch ants spill out
        was reason to thump

some reproductions
        are not so flawed
as the original
        would we witness
the video again
        if our constitution
wasn’t numb to
        the faculty we share
with the shooter
        we have flinched

that the thieves stole
        a flowerpot
and left the masterpiece
        was reason to
sing and amidst these
        losses there were
many birthdays
        too much earth
to view all the tape
        our eyes wide

in each chamber
        we watch movies
movies movies though
        culture has
its critics this is how
        we are enlarged
as Shelley said
        by a sympathy
when the impulse is
        to recoil.




LIKE Indigenous Features of the Landscape


A parachutist dangles from
a lamp post. Two soldiers
stroll through the touristy area.
One rifle was made in Russia.
One was made in France.
How they got from there to
here is how the war began.






If the shortest distance between
        two points is the poem,
                more beautiful is the arc,

said Austerlitz, and he said so leaning back
        from the table where he spoke
                of boats and wine

and whatever else could be judged
       by its provenance, as in
                the weather. I looked at a cloud

and asked, Where do you come from?
        West, said Austerlitz, I would pay most
                or that view: an office tower,

flag half-mast above the plaza where
        I really think—don’t you? said Austerlitz—
                there should be a fountain,

but the drought, he said, we are saving
        water, we won’t let the flag touch
                the ground. If only, he mused,

we were more willing to spare
        the animals. I read a story, said Austerlitz,
                where a man shot a sheep

but had to get the sheep home.
        He had to carry, said Austerlitz,
                the sheep on his back

through bear country. Just listen, he said,
        nodding to the next table,
                as a woman spoke to her date:

We don’t really have killers in France,
        but we have many unsolved crimes,
                and I thought, because Austerlitz

urged me to listen, that one—but which?—
        was scarier than the other.
                On the promenade, the telescopic lens

offered a promise: TURN TO CLEAR VISION,
        and I did. I saw a cross section of sky, silhouette
                of the roof’s potted baobab,

wind shaking the evening’s tall grasses…
        —But anyway, said Austerlitz,
                I haven’t slept in months…

haven’t found the world fit, really,
        for sleeping. Do you want to hear
                a joke? he said. He said the Lord said,

Is my name not enough?
        He said He said, I sent my son
                because he could throw

a good parting. Anyway, said Austerlitz,
        we have lost the near distance.
                The wind sock, he said,

do you think it will hold the breeze
        all night in our absence?
                Would you, said Austerlitz,

allow it to? But this wasn’t meant
        to be commentary
                on what is permitted.

We ate dove braised in red sauce.
        You’ll love it, said Austerlitz,
                I loved it once myself.






Originally from coastal Maine, Bill Carty lives in Seattle, WA. He has received poetry fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Artist Trust, the Richard Hugo House, the Sorting Room, and Jack Straw. He is the author of Huge Cloudy (forthcoming from Octopus Books) and the chapbook Refugium (Alice Blue Books). His poems have recently appeared (or will soon) in the Boston Review, Ploughshares, Pinwheel, the Iowa Review, Conduit, the Volta, Oversound, and other journals. He is Web Editor at Poetry Northwest.