The Monday Poem: ‘Doctrine’ by Sam Sax

The Monday Poem is brought to you by Professor Jim Gormley of the English Department. Enjoy!

Doctrine

sam sax

the time for nuance is over
i argue over breakfast
explaining how it’s oft used
to confuse descent—knife
through my poached egg.
politicized work made all yolky,
easy to consume & forget.
i dab with the toasted bread
agitation & propaganda i rant
is the only just path for artists
gesturing with my utensils
heavenward. i’ve said a lot
of things which in retrospect
would’ve been better
had i kept my mouth shut.
i once said something to a friend
i wont repeat here
& now she’s no longer my friend.
ill never forget what her eyes did
as i finished speaking
stones in a bucket.
words have consequences
they’re both material & reveal
the spirit that speaks them.
what i meant over breakfast
is the time’s too urgent for work
that doesn’t have blood in it.
what i meant is insurgency
is our birthright, that nuance
comes from the french meaning
to shade—why another painting
of a lake when there’s so much
rage boiling outside the canvas?
what does it mean i don’t mean
what i say when i say it? i don’t know
what i mean. silence is golden
& gold’s the standard measurement
for capital. the golden rule is do
unto others as you would have them
do unto you. but what when they do
you ugly first as they always
seem to? i finish my coffee &
it’s political whether i want it
to be or not.

About This Poem

“I wrote this poem at The MacDowell Colony after finding myself in a conversation about political art vehemently arguing for something I later realized I don’t necessarily believe in. While I’m primarily interested in artists whose work reflects the times, this poem is trying to figure out what exactly I mean when I say ‘necessary’ or ‘urgent’ poetry and to think through language’s ‘use’ and ‘utility’ in writing and beyond.”
—sam sax
sam sax is the author of Madness, winner of the National Poetry Series and forthcoming in 2017 from Penguin Books. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, and The MacDowell Colony. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.