Jared Carter: "War"




In Goya's Disasters of War, print

after print of huddled women, already

raped, beaten, defeated, struggling

to bring a cup of water to another—


hillsides draped with bodies of the dead,

a priest tied to a stake, darkness,

stones, illumination within that world

always stark, unforgiving, wild—


yet in scene after scene the backgrounds

begin to dominate, the fierce stippling

and cross-hatching that never seems

to repeat itself, and is always different


from one print to the next—the void,

the emptiness, that we see swirling

and drifting about in the images

of Dürer, Rembrandt, Van Gogh—


quantum vacuum, beyond the limits

of the imagination, but shown, particles

popping into existence, screaming

on a frequency we cannot pick up—


and yet perfectly composed, balanced,

this darkness, this light, Goya bestows

on these huddled figures, these creatures

with bat wings, poring over their ledgers.



Jared Carter has published four books of poetry, most recently Cross this Bridge at a Walk (Wind Publications, 2006). His previous volumes include Les Barricades Mystérieuses, After the Rain, and Work, for the Night Is Coming (winner of the Walt Whitman Award), all released by Cleveland State University Poetry Center.  His work also has appeared in many literary journals, including Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Poetry, and TriQuarterly.