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Published: Mon Apr 15 1996
Art by Jin Suk
The Hovel

Slate-scraps, split stone, third-hand splintering timber; rusted nails and
_       _sheet-tin;
dirt floor, chinks the wind seeps through, the stink of an open sewer
_       _streaming behind;
rags, flies, stench, and never, it seems, clear air, light, a breeze of
_       _benevolent clemency.

My hut, my home, the destiny only deferred of which all I live now is
_       _deflection, illusion:
war, plunder, pogrom; crops charred, wife ravished, children starved,
_       _stolen, enslaved;
muck, toil, hunger, never a moment for awareness, of song, sun, dawn’s
_       _immaculate stillness.

Back bent, knees shattered, teeth rotting; fever and lesion, the physical
_       _knowledge of evil;
illiterate, numb, insensible, superstitious, lurching from lust to hunger to
_       _unnameable dread;
the true history I inhabit, the sea of suffering, the wave to which I am
_       _froth, scum.

See what's inside AGNI 43

C. K. Williams was an acclaimed American poet and translator. He won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Flesh and Blood (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1987), the National Book Award for The Singing (FSG, 2003) and the Pulitzer Prize for Repair (FSG, 2000). He taught in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University.

His poem “A Hundred Bones” from AGNI 72 was chosen for The Best American Poetry 2011.

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