3 new, unpublished poems by Zack Rogow
What the World Needs Now
for Hal David, Burt Bacharach, and Jackie DeShannon
What the world needs now is an electric car with fins
What the world needs now is a loosey-goosey interpretation of the most sacred books
What the world needs now is a way to live many lives simultaneously
What the world needs now is a whole country just for elephants and their trusted companions
What the world needs now is a villanelle you can rock out to
Freedom What the world needs now is freedom ringing from Badaling Mountain in China to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to Denali in Alaska to Mount Elbrus in Russia
What the world needs now is a tofu recipe that tastes as good as a medium-rare burger just off the grill
What the world needs now is a glue that can fasten Monday onto Saturday and Sunday
What the world needs now is a cigarette that cures cancer
What the world needs now is a Frisbee that can turn 90 degrees
What the world needs now is for everyone to stop running the water when they brush their teeth—it would saves lives—I’m not sure how but I know it would
What the world needs now is Marilyn Monroe in a flannel shirt and construction worker boots
What the world needs now is a way to play back our dreams
What the world needs now is love sweet love
At least that’s what I need
You Have Someone Else’s Name
Manet and Monet—
how unlikely is that?
But it’s only yeasted from there:
one blues great called Etta James,
another named Etta Jones.
And they both sang
“Don’t Go to Strangers.”
Not to mention one of my favorite actors, Maggie Smith,
with exactly the same name as the poet Maggie Smith.
As for my name,
there’s already a Zach Rogowski on Facebook,
a handsome devil
with his arm around with his beaming wife.
It’s only a matter of time
before I Google my moniker
and a total stranger stares back.
A name used to make a body stand apart,
to last longer than this machine of flesh.
Now it’s just something we share,
like our favorite salted caramel whatever.
Everything we hold dear is borrowed,
even our names,
those rented ice skates,
and one day,
when our ankles are sore and the cold
has warmed our cheeks,
we will have to give them back.
Dayenu: The refrain from a song in the Passover seder that means, “It would have been
If there had been only stars with their stitches of light and no planets—that would have been enough
If there had been only lifeless planets with strands of quartz and gold—Dayenu
If there had been just the breathing oceans vaulting against boulders
Only microorganisms with their endless division and multiplication
If there had been only forests of coral
Merely the minnows their tiny hearts flicking inside glass bodies
If there had been only the firefish the butterfly fish and seahorses disguised as kelp
Only the desert and its runnels of sand
Just green beards of grass and no redwoods
If there had been only black onyx no lemon serpentine no azurite
Only the insects with their x-ray wings and flashing songs
Just the geometry of snake skins and no mammals
Only gray mice their hearts valving six hundred times a minute
If there had been nothing but a hummingbird pinning itself in midair
Only the elephant with its vault of bones only the zebra so unaware of its own beauty
Only monkeys chattering their no language—that would have been enough
Only the first humans weighing their young in their arms—Dayenu
Only that and not the peacock domes of Isfahan
Not the “Mood Indigo” of Ella’s Ellington album
Or the white stone garden of Ryoanji Temple where no viewer can view every dark rock
No broken torso of Apollo
Or acts of love beyond number
Would it really have been enough?
Zack Rogow is the author, editor, or translator of twenty books or plays. His eighth book of poems, Talking with the Radio: poems inspired by jazz and popular music, was published in 2015 by Kattywompus Press. He is also writing a series of plays about authors, incorporating their writing into the action. The most recent of these, Colette Uncensored, had its first staged reading at the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, in February 2015. He is the editor of an anthology of poetry of the U.S.A., The Face of Poetry, from University of California Press. Currently he teaches in the low-residency MFA in writing program at the University of Alaska Anchorage and serves as poetry editor of Catamaran Literary Reader. www.zackrogow.com
Featured image: Photo by Teri Allen Piccolo.