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This poem is taken from PN Review 201, Volume 38 Number 1, September - October 2011.

From Voltaire's Garden and Other Entanglements Brian Jones
Je sais seulement que la terre tremble depuis deux ans et que les hommes ensanglantent la surface depuis longtemps. Que faire à tout cela? Cultiver son jardin et sa vigne.
Voltaire, Letters

1

It's instructive, being stared at by stones,
their cool, Socratic way of asking 'And?'
so that no thought is ever final, even adequate.
Severely unlike those compliant faces
of yesteryear (O neiges d'antan!) their beaming
encouragement of my brainy glissandoes!
Nothing congratulates or rewards, you see.
I recently looked up from those pitiless stones
to find cows, in line, just gazing at me.
The scanning animal scanned, imagine it!
In those remorselessly receiving eyes
I was simply a small accident of presence
that would disappear when they chose to turn away,
a something that was about to have had its moment.
...


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