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  • The New Normal
  • Victor Li

(The following poem is indebted to Walter Benjamin’s rather cryptic remark on the messianic condition: “Everything will be as it is now, just a little different.”)

Nothing has changedthough thingsare different now.What we do nowwe have always done;what we do nowwe have never done.

Somewhereskulls are stillcracked,necks broken,the intimacy of violence stillfastenedto its prevention.

Somewherefaces are stillhalf-exposedto light,half-coveredby shadow.

Somewherea child is stillbeing takenwhile the oddsare beatenby others.

Nowherecan anyonebreathe easy, [End Page 11] the airno longer the samesince handsturned enemies,mouths missiles,embraces garottes.

Nowhereto restorethat somewheretaken for granted:the gift of smilesas bodies collidewhen trains brake.

Nowherea line of flight,everywhererubble-heapssky-highwhere somethinglike an angelmay lie.

Everywherea little different,the differencematters littleor matters mostlike sunlightenteringthe narrow gate. [End Page 12]



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