's Blog

Poem for a Wednesday: If You Ask Your Attorney To Be Concise

Posted by on 09/29/2010 at 01:58 PM

If You Ask Your Attorney To Be Concise by Seth Abramson, Esq.

When he speaks, it will not be to describe those neighbors you were born to,
whose boys like grim ferrets poked their heads out the weeds
and stole caps from your juiced Honda; because he knows you loved life
     in the neighborhood / and may even have loved sending

your furtive retrievers, like warhorses, out to battle with the locals, and did
treat them well - your retrievers - once they'd plunged
down hillsides with red tongues and upturned noses, doing so only
     because you'd asked them to, and sometimes meant it / he won't say

you believed in those dogs more than the three sons who were taken away,
though he knows you did, and knows it was because
they could better ride the downdraft of your discouragement, and had no fear
     you would betray them / if not out of love

but because you, too, thrilled in the loose, uncertain spaces of the mudflats,
and thwarting a hardscrabble policeman, and were of course the one who
once, in a defile so bannered with vapor and sleet in grey hooks
     even the mud spat back, fought one / and did so thanking your father,

your real father, for hitting you so hard, so often. So your man will say little
of a spindly wife who beetled her way through the valley leading off
and away from you, the intemperate years no more than a desultory jumble
     in the back seat of her Duster / good riddance

is all you said to her, good riddance. And from this din there isn't any sound
your advocate will extract, not a single note he'll find to ride this chaos
home - not the snap of the infant you in a washer,
     or the teen you cradling an oily pistol / or the eternal synaptic you
who might find, in the thinning daylight ahead, that one ferocious moment
to live in forever, in which there is no love left
but the love of those moments which precede every moment of regret,
     obscure lullabies / with nothing to hang their words upon

but the bony grapples of your wrists, which your defender may briefly touch
as you turn to go - blank as a principle - into the stairwell
which leads you down to those men who, loveless but not disloyal, take odd
     pleasure / as so many do / in knowing they'll never see you again.


Seth Abramson, a 1998 graduate of Dartmouth College and a 2001 graduate of Harvard Law School, is a trial attorney with the New Hampshire Public Defender and the co-founder of The New Hampshire Review. His work has appeared in American Literary ReviewAntioch Review, Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review, The Southern Review, Pleiades, Alaska Quarterly Review, Indiana Review, Denver Quarterly, Seattle Review, and Green Mountains Review. He has poems forthcoming in AGNI, Verse, The Iowa Review, and Colorado Review.
"A Brief History for Ventriloquists " first appeared in the Indiana Review. "If You Ask Your Attorney to Be Concise " was first published in the Antioch Review.