February 2010

James Bertolino


James Bertolino's tenth volume of poetry, Finding Water, Holding Stone, was published in 2009 by Cherry Grove Collections. Seventeen presses have published his collections, including Copper Canyon, Carnegie Mellon, and the Quarterly Review of Literature Award Series. He lives near Bellingham, Washington, and served as a judge for the 2009 American Book Awards.

Do the Math    

I remember from grade school
when a nun told us the killers
are those who sweat a lot.

There were situations, times
when my underpants
didn't feel normal. Seemed damp,
or of a temperature different from
my skin.

That same one said the old nuns
who survived the winter
were embarrassed to speak to each other
when spring finally came.

I remember we studied the angels in 3rd grade,
and I observed that Superman
had the same powers as an Archangel.
Our teacher snarled that I was only interested
in "potty math."

I believe they all suffered
from insufficient hopefulness.



The Records    

"Do you remember a line
from the book you're burning,"
she asked him. "What, you think
I read these stupid things?"

It was an all-too-typical exchange
from that time before everyone fled
what remained of the cities, before farmers
were murdered for corn.

But that's not what we teach the children.
We want them to believe those days
were just like these, and that we always
ate insects, never cared for records.

We elders in our thirties have a responsibility
to generate hope in the young.



James Bertolino: Poetry
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