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Paired Poems.

April 21, 2008

These two are part of a sequence-in-process, for my senior seminar. I am a part of a reading at our annual William Kemp Symposium for the Department of English, Linguistics, and Speech. In honor of that occasion, I revised the first of these poems and wrote the second, as a kind of explication…


Suspended, like moons, sliced and strung-up
along a crooked wire, the blurry bones hung.
I wanted to be left alone

with the round warble of the negative,
to press it, as he did– with a snap–
to the backlit window-box. He talked

of a naturally bowed head. And I could see
the bent neck of an egret at the scummy marsh-edge
reading the mud for the silvered brows of fish.

He touched the tendons of my neck, joking softly
of the books that’d bent my head
in subjugation. But, in the clicking dial

of the goniometer, I heard instead
the warning of her half-century tied to him,
as hunched Narcissus to the blind pond’s edge.

“Spring 1961”

He’d run off and someone told her this time
about his father’s bolero-tie being passed on
with his weakness for mothering thighs.

And she’d raged–womb-heavy with his third child,
flying bird-like inside the glass house she kept
with a pound cake and entertainment smiles.

And, Moma said, she’d ripped the carpet up
and the wallpaper aside, then taken the girls
to the beauty shop to have their strawberry

hair cut into pixie-styles. He came home this time
with the African purple diamond for her right hand.
And he sold the green cadillac with brown paper bags

of hair still inside. And she took him back
that spring before her sister died.


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