War on Poverty


It may not be nice to be good, little 6655321. It may be horrible to be good. And when I say that to you I realize how self-contradictory that sounds. I know I shall have many sleepless nights about this. What does God want? Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him? Deep and hard questions, little 6655321.

–Anthony Burgess

Drains throat more

than water—spiraling soap, hair,

dirt, grease, cleanser, champagne

grapes, spit, toothpaste,

and other bits of waste we launch

earthward. We know well enough,

standing in the slime of refusing-

to-empty tubs, lowering hands

into murky dishwater to finger

out clogs—no matter how we malign

people and actions, we connect with

the suck of energy. We need

the drain’s down so we can clean up.

Irena Praitis is the author of four collections of poetry, a biography comprised of nonfiction prose poems, and the co-translator of a volume of Lithuanian poet Sonata Paliulyte's verse. Her most recent book, The Last Stone in the Circle won the Red Mountain Press Poetry Prize. She's a professor of literature and creative writing at California State University, Fullerton and lives in Fullerton California with her son Ishaan.