IMPROVISATION ON THE TIMES DEC. 1, 2014

The week’s first paper after Mark Strand died.
He wrote, To close one’s eyes is to see the giant
World that is born each time the eyes are closed.
The almost All that is there, without yourself.
The almost Nothing — the I — that strains to see it.
It’s not despair, it’s the comfort of the dark.

Here in the mortal paper, Hong Kong police
Have “thrust into” the pro-democracy camp.
An 18-year-old repairing a barricade says,
“I think the government will ignore us again.”
In the U.S. House the Speaker implies the same.
Getting to work: a variant of despair.

In Sports, before the Rams game, five black players
Stood with hands raised above their heads, a gesture
That “has become a symbol of this case” —
The case of 18-year-old Michael Brown,
Unarmed, shot dead by a white cop who resigned.
We close our eyes to remember, or reach a note.

Eyes closed to think open again on Business:
Here, in “The Media Equation,” the paper
Itself considers the offices going dark:
Cutbacks, layoffs, buyouts. At another paper,
Reporters asked to deliver the paper paper —
The fading pulp-gray iris I scorn and crave.

-Robert Pinsky, New York Times

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