The History of the Siege

By Eric Pankey

Subjects: Poetry
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9781949933246, 130 pages, May 2024

Table of contents

No One Treats You like a Mother When Your Mother Is Dead
I Stayed All Night in the Cabin
The Afterlife
The Dress
Native As You Are to Nothing
The Entrepreneur
As a Thunderhead Gathers
With Words
My Mother Set the House on Fire
Infiltration & Seepage
Exaggerated Gestures
A Stop at Willoughby: Twilight Zone, Season One, Episode 30
A Weathered Ladder
Pocketsize Notebook with a Black Elastic Strap to Hold It Closed
The River Still Ragged with Ice Floes
Redemption Song
Which Is to Say
A Grid over the Debris Field
The Forgotten Holdall
Interference Pattern
Recently Recovered Pages from the Complete List of Everything
Shallow Ford in the River
To Render the Impression of Perspective
The Call-in Show
Buried For Now
A Trauma
The Invisible Man
Balanced on the Chair's Back Legs
From the Get-Go
As in Any Marriage
Eight Preparatory Drawings
The Checkpoint
Without Likeness
The Old Devil in the Tree
The Encounter
Feedback & Interference
Novel Microbes in the Ice Melt
To No One in Particular
The Boredom that Precedes the Rapture
Last Radio Playing
Without Mystery
Another World Afloat on Fire
A Large Expanse of Glass Set Upon Twin Sawhorses
The Loneliness of a Bridge
The Weight
Some Will Tell You Their Secret
Yet The Past Hardly Existed
Gates Swung Open One After Another to Admit Us
An Echo & Its Glyph
Shelter in Place
A Parable
Waylaid Again
The Spectrum's Violet End
On the Fulcrum of Of
I'm Gonna Run to the City of Refuge
Trust-Building Exercise
Border Crossing
A Pre-existing Condition
Hearing Voices
The Remainder
The Future Perfect: A Fugue
Oblique Strategies
The Sick Boy
The History of the Siege
Additional Praise

Prose poems that chronicle the eschatological age in which we live.


Written and gathered together in an era of pandemic, rising authoritarianism, war, and climate crisis, the prose poems in Eric Pankey's The History of the Siege chronicle the eschatological age in which we live, where everyone, as the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert argues, "suffers from a loss of the sense of time." Pankey, in his third collection of prose poems, continues to investigate the formal and rhetorical possibilities of this already subversive genre. In a 1987 interview, Zbigniew Herbert said, "It is vanity to think that one can influence the course of history by writing poetry. It is not the barometer that changes the weather." While these poems—sometimes solemn, sometimes hermetic, sometimes funny—do not attempt to influence history, they do hope to capture what it is like to live within history—and it looks like, as the old song says, we're in for nasty weather.

Eric Pankey is the author of sixteen previous collections of poetry and a collection of essays. His work has been supported by fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is Professor of English and the Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University.