Carol Muske-Dukes

February 22, 2019 Muske-Dukes Carol


               “The blood of children ran in the streets/like the

                                blood of children..”

  • Pablo Neruda



No other sound like it. Beyond even spy

listening devices. This sound that holds


us, like, “glued” to  our screens, citizens

of a smashed republic.  (Mussolini, unlike

any of us, saw a perfect cruel simile:  a “rose”

of flesh erupting at a dropped  bomb’s heart.)


Like beauty, unsouled. It is a tale told by an A.I.

full of cruel facsimile, signifying nothing. Nothing:
where the line of  mothers, in prison drab, vanishes in transit,
while the one loud disembodied voice insists


on borders, between us – in our minds, where we

find out early what is alien. No crossing for us into

that other country, where blood runs as blood, as

the small unmarked coffins pile up.  Counted like


our many “likes”, total’d little signifiers, faces of

those  in our monitored protection – as we

are protected from these children, not ours. But “like”

ours, the way our own deaths are like, you know, death.

Carol Muske-Dukes is a professor at the University of Southern California and a former Poet Laureate of California. She is the author of nine books of poems – her ninth collection, Blue Rose, was published in 2018 by Penguin. Earlier books of poems include Sparrow, from Random House, a National Book Award finalist, and others. She has also published four novels, including Channeling Mark Twain from Random House, 2003. She is also an essayist and anthology editor. Her two collections of essays include Married to the Icepick Killer: a Poet in Hollywood (S.F. Chronicle Best Book) — and an anthology of poems, co-edited with Bob Holman – Crossing State Lines: an American Renga (from Farrar, Strauss & Giroux) and two children’s poetry “handbooks” – The Magical Poetry Blimp Pilot’s Guide, 1 & 2. Many of her books have been NY Times Most Notable Books.  She is the author of an essay collection Women and Poetry: Truth, Autobiography, and the Shape of the Self (Poets on Poetry). She founded both the USC PhD program in Literature & CW, as well as the Art Without Walls/Free Space writing program on Riker’s Island & prisons throughout NY state. Also, she has reviewed & written for the NY Times Book Review & Op Ed,  the LA Times (for years as poetry columnist), the New Yorker & the Huffington Post. She is published & anthologized widely, and is the winner of a number of awards, including, Guggenheim, NEA, Ingram/Merrill, the Castagnola award (PSA) and six Pushcart Prizes.