Philip Fried

June 24, 2016 Fried Philip


Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts?

                                    —Book of Job


Take a seat. All you need to know is, I am

The DA, judge, and jury in one, a justice

System. I investigate even nano-whispers

Of complaint about providing prey to raptors,

And I’ll say, though it hardly needs to be said, I’m invested

With breathtaking powers, etc.


Why did you flee into the wilderness

Of your cerebrum? Nevermind. Every obscure

Clearing can be accessed by divine

Megaphone and floodlit by the Logos.

How did we track you? I hear it all, every bit

Of the planet’s chatter. News and newsleaks, sexting,

Conspiracies, the wind colluding with leaves.

I am sui generis and omni-aural

As well as omniscient and omnipotent.


And you’ve become a person of interest, a notable.

Right to remain silent? We’re not a procedural!

Of course. You can make more than one call. Reach out.

But would even a mafia mouthpiece dare to plead

For a human speck in the Court of the Absolute?


Where were you at the time of the classified

Incident? Don’t tell me you were just doodling

With syntax. You devised a silent soliloquy

Of feeble, sulky dissent. Your speech, from a tangle

Of neurons, flowered into orchids like justice,

Or nettles like motherfucker. But the mind

Is a leased wilderness, whose excitable cells

Can be tapped.

Here’s the plea deal, you’ll act as my witness:

Rehearse the authorized narrative, rescind

Your complaint, endorse my initiative to feed

The raptor, and bow to my superior terror.

I want to know everything I already know.

Stand up. Begin with the voice from the whirlwind …

Philip Fried has published six books of poetry, the most recent being his book of poems about the national security state, Interrogating Water (Salmon, 2014). Squaring the Circle is forthcoming from Salmon this fall, and he is preparing a manuscript titled “Voice.” 26 of his poems will be appearing in the anthology Four American Poets, due out this fall from The High Window Press (UK). In addition to writing poetry, he is the founding editor of The Manhattan Review (1980-present), an international poetry journal.