Best US Poetry 2017





GREGORY ORR

Three Dark
Proverb Sonnets

000
1. 

None have done wrong who still
Have a tongue: even Cain
Can explain.
Yet every atrocity
Breeds its reciprocity:
No murder
That doesn't lead to further.

If I was in charge, those who
Praise rage would be made
To visit more graves.
Skulls
Annul. All knives should be dull.

And yet, once we'd built the coffin
We had no choice: we had to find a corpse. 

2. 

Watch the leopard, not its spots.

It's the tiger that strikes,
Not the stripes.
The smart hide their claws
In their paws, then add
Fur for allure.

Combining smiles and wiles
And calling it "style."

A sword has a point,
But a needle
Is sharper and cleaner-
Less mess, less evidence.

It was never just the arrow
We bowed to; it was also the bow.
3.
Remember: every fist
Began as an open hand.

Even a bridge is a ledge
If you stray to its edge.

You can lead a horse
To water, but
You can't make it drink.

You can guide a fool
To wisdom,
But you can't make him think.

You can close one eye to evil,
But you'd better not blink.
In the dark, adjust your eyes.
In the darker, your heart.

from Mississippi Review


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