The Death of Poetry

Back when poetry


across the shores

like a hurricane

sending words spinning

in wind and waves;


back before

the waves wreaked havoc

on land,

when rain was a roof

to hide beneath;


when temperatures climbed,

but didn’t soar

and sizzle;


back when


was food

to be shared

among countries,

and only birds tweeted;


the time

before his tornado

ripped homes away

in Houston


Puerto Rico,


you know

that time

people listened—

a rapt audience—

to poetry,

and language mattered

even “but”

because there are no buts

about health





empty verse

limp across the stage


it collapses.

Pamela L. Laskin is a lecturer in the English Department at The City College of New York, where she directs The Poetry Outreach Center. She is the published author of five books of poetry and three young adult novels, most recently, Ronit and Jamil, a Palestinian/Israeli Romeo and Juliet in verse. She is the winner of the 2019 Leapfrog Fiction contest for her epistolary novel, Why No Bhine.

Barzakh Mag