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Published: Wed Jul 1 2009
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Song of the Species

How many have I sent to Hell?
I can’t keep track of names.

. . . Anyone you know
with a waterfront view. All your accusers,
all whom they accuse. The many
who ache to be the few.

The morons on the city bus,
their friends and kids and dogs.
Drum-bangers, gang-bangers,
self-hangers, and pigs.
Those who make the love
or love the peace, or make the killing …
I include myself as well,
and the bell that tolls for me.

Thank you for your love;
you get my pity in return.
I wrote this on a Tuesday
while I was sitting in the park.

Canadian-American poet James Arthur is the author of The Suicide’s Son (Véhicule Press, 2019) and Charms Against Lightning (Copper Canyon Press, 2012). His poems have also appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Review of Books, The American Poetry Review, AGNIThe New Republic, and The London Review of Books. He has received the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Hodder Fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship, a Discovery/The Nation Prize, a Fulbright Scholarship to Northern Ireland, and a Visiting Fellowship at Exeter College, Oxford. Arthur lives in Baltimore, where he teaches in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. (updated 10/2019)

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