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Winter 2000, Volume 17.2


 photo of Paul Karan.

Paul Karan 

Paul Karan has had about one hundred poems published in periodicals across North America, including such journals as
The Maryland Poetry Review, Ellipsis, Aura (U.S.) and The New Quarterly, Queen's Quarterly and The Antigonish Review (Canada). He hopes this serves as some mitigation for the political speeches he has written.


Low-Speed Collision

When it's inevitable
and you can only watch
and the only control you've
got is where you put your eyes

What you do about it
is nothing you only watch
and the only control you've
mastered is in not trying for it

Where it happens is
irrelevant; not central
and the only control you've
opted for is a false indifference

Who is involved in it
is uncertain or unclear
and the only control you've
known is keeping them apart

Which leaves only the
matter of the secret told
and the only control you've
left yourself is fear all around

How you finally deal
with it is foreordained
and the only control you've
prayed for is pure utter chance


The Poem

The poem is the poet and his thought
The poet repudiates his thought
        destroys the poem
        eradicates himself
The poem recreates itself
        regenerates the thought
        resurrects the poet
The poem is both thought and poet


The Story
(As I Tell It)

The poem fell into my lap
(I'm in bed)
fully formed
(reading Kirkegaard)
line after line
(in my underwear)
marching through my skull
(it's not a warm night)
I try to ignore it
(I don't want to get up)
the tramping in my head won't let me
(I really don't)
Soren's doing his best to compete
(go away!)
comparing himself to a kangaroo
(another line comes leaping)
but more lines keep rolling in
(I give up)
I know when I'm licked
(it's cold standing by the keyboard)
still, it's nice to know
(let's get this over with)
that occasionally, poetry wins
(so does gooseflesh)


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