Alicia Ostriker

The Mystery
September 5, 2015 Ostriker Alicia

The Mystery



The mystery of our time
is the addiction to violence

we understand the blossoms returning
to dirt in August but not this

we understand the dying of the light
but not the shooting or the beheading

Open it
like a box with another box

inside it and inside that one
another –what is it –what is it—

the spike of pleasure also among those
who merely watch the film

or the video
with a kind of adoration



I did not want to say
the screaming baby

makes the mother and the older
brother both want to kill it



in the subway today
two veterans went through the car

asking for money or food
they said they were homeless



They said they served us
in Afghanistan and Iraq they said

they had post traumatic stress syndrome
I wanted to scream

Those were two useless wars
I mean those wars were evil they were criminal

and my husband sitting across from me
wanted to scream those men were hired killers

he carries on like that
sometimes at the dinner table

though we know so many of these boys
were just trying to escape poverty

there was a door and they rushed through it
not considering consequences

and here we were at 72nd St.
silently looking at our laps

like everyone else in the car
trying not to cause more suffering

Alicia Suskin Ostriker is an American poet and scholar who writes Jewish feminist poetry. She was called “America’s most fiercely honest poet,” by Progressive. In 2015, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets