Carrie Etter: Three Poems

Author’s note: In revisiting my writing from the latter half of 2017, I encountered these poems that try to articulate political frustrations and the balance one makes between “the world out there” and individual experience. They come to no conclusions, of course; the act of writing is less about making sense than increasing awareness and trying to communicate something of that struggle.



Another Threshold


I am sorry to disappoint. The cat was.

Every time I say Obama, a friend says drones.


Asleep in my lap. I should have minded the date.

Every time someone says President Trump, I am aghast.


How did it come down to me? The cat was not my excuse.

We all read healthcare fears on Facebook.


Not really, but if it was. Am I holding the pin?

We post videos of one species of animal helping another.


I’m looking for the metaphorical grenade. I could stay a while.

If I had more faith in petitions. If I couldn’t liken the news


to a succession of extreme weather: flood, tornado,

heat wave, drought, hurricane—and repeat.





In the Wake, A Proposal


In temperate, in cotton blend, in a combination of fluorescent

and natural light, I


proliferate, this petition signature posted, that direct debit paid, out

and out and out I go


to exhale too emphatically at the end of Body Pump, to hold

the spoonful of green curry


on my tongue a luscious, even lascivious moment longer,

to be inevitable


and for now, as yet, inexhaustible. To teem in spite of an

orange-skinned tyrant and


the beguiling (£350 million more a week for the NHS!)

promises of politicians,


I. And you.




The Many


And now the unbridling: I cut the straw circling the stems, and whoosh! the blooms, the scarlet, the white, the green (two bodies wrestling together, mouths, hands, limbs aflurry….), this, here, now of colour (of taste, of touch), of the nipped bouquet resuming the meadow—and yet not (O the morning). The marble floor of not. The stone wall of who did you think you. Once the flowers have been scissored from their roots, what did you— I see a young woman, just down the terrace, who from taut uncurls and rises and collapses and I can’t say, can I, how many she is….




Carrie Etter is an American expatriate resident in England for nearly twenty years. She has published four collections, most recently The Weather in Normal (UK: Seren; US: Station Hill, 2018), and edited Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets (Shearsman, 2010). She is Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. ‘The Many’ first appeared in Shearsman 117/118.



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