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Five poems from “Address” (Wesleyan University Press)

9780819570987Five poems from Address:

Take This Poem
A Species Is an Idea
In Strength Sweetness





I is to they
as river is to barge
as convert to picket line
sinker to steamer
The sun belongs to I
once, for an instant
The window belongs to you
leaning on the afternoon
They are to you
as the suffocating dis-
appointment of the mall
is to the magic rustle
of the word “come”
Turn left toward the mountain
Go straight until you see
the boat in the driveway
A little warmer, a little stickier
a little more like spring

(first published in NO)

courtesy Web Conjunctions

Take this spoon
from me, this
cudgel, this axe
Take this bowl
this kettle, this
continental plate
Take, if you will,
this shallow topsoil
above my bedrock
This swingset
above the topsoil
this raven
from my hair

Take your fear
from its closet
Take this shirt
in need of washing
this unread book
Take this child
this husband, this
teacup, this
provisional weather
Take this pill
with a tall glass
of water, take this
bus deep into
the interior

Take my wife
even if I meant
to keep her
Take my share
I don’t need it
Take as long
as you need to
Take this line
between breathing
and voting
Take this city
Take this expensive
ship across that
cellophane model
of the sea

Take the F train
but not to Brooklyn
Take the case
of the missing cufflinks
Take this beverage
with its silver
Pullman ice

Take me with you
as far as you can go
I won’t cause
any trouble

Take this office
overlooking the people
Take this patience
and burn it to the ground
Take down your
vanities, your hippodrome
your champagne

Take down your hair
your curtains, your
razorwire fence
Take off your greasepaint
your necklace, your wig
your inadequate armor

Take off your coat
Stay a little longer
Take the low road
out into the sunset

Take it out back
And take it
to the people
Take Florida
Take Ohio
Take Wisconsin
Take Missouri

Take this chamber
like a bullet
Take this house
and paint it black
or take it down


Leaving my umbrella
I left everything behind

That dog, an emblem
of my dirty self

All this reflection
amounting to shadows

Ink eats the page:
it’s Chemistry against the Forest

What train are you on
with all these thoughts?

What bitter landscape
the better to hear you with?

Its stepless grid
is suddenly a corridor

You write this down
You’re at the end of it

(first published in Chicago Review)



in the wind / an inky air

in the air / finchness

in the ink / a stone

in the winter / winter

in the nest / in the piney

in the tree / filigree

in the great / bye and bye

in the worm / William Blake

in the fall / fortune

in the ocean / a figure

in canvas / the grain

in the apartment / a body

in the mountain / its making

in the cottage / a fable

in the mind / its miniature

in the seed/ a sun

in the fist / a question

in the question / an expedition

in the expedition / a bank

in the dollar /a seal

in the seal / another seal

in the sand / a massacre

in the blood / spirit

in the word / your mouth

in the tale / its labyrinth

in the lion / the bee

in the bee / a plain

in the plan / a city

in your city / its anger

in your anger / a harbor

in your harbor / a boat

in the boat / open sea


The Witch
courtesy Boston Review

A witch can charm milk from an ax handle.
A witch bewitches a man’s shoe.
A witch sleeps naked.
“Witch ointment” on the back will allow you to fly through the air.
A witch carries the four of clubs in her sleeve.
A witch may be sickened at the scent of roasting meat.
A witch will neither sink nor swim.
When crushed, a witch’s bones will make a fine glue.
A witch will pretend not to be looking at her own image in a window.
A witch will gaze wistfully at the glitter of a clear night.
A witch may take the form of a cat in order to sneak into a good man’s chamber.
A witch’s breasts will be pointed rather than round, as discovered in the trials of the 1950s.
A powerful witch may cause a storm at sea.
With a glance, she will make rancid the fresh butter of her righteous neighbor.
Even our fastest dogs cannot catch a witch-hare.
A witch has been known to cry out while her husband places inside her the image of a child.
A witch may be burned for tying knots in a marriage bed.
A witch may produce no child for years at a time.
A witch may speak a foreign language to no one in particular.
She may appear to frown when she believes she is smiling.
If her husband dies unexpectedly, she may refuse to marry his brother.
A witch has been known to weep at the sight of her own child.
She may appear to be acting in a silent film whose placards are missing.
In Hollywood the sky is made of tin.
A witch makes her world of air, then fire, then the planets. Of cardboard, then ink, then a compass.
A witch desires to walk rather than be carried or pushed in a cart.
When walking a witch will turn suddenly and pretend to look at somethin very small.
The happiness of an entire house may be ruined by witch hair touching a metal cross.
The devil does not speak to a witch. He only moves his tongue.
An executioner may find the body of a witch insensitive to an iron spike.
An unrepentant witch may be converted with a little lead in the eye.
Enchanting witchpowder may be hidden in a girl’s hair.
When a witch is hungry, she can make a soup by stirring water with her hand.
I have heard of a poor woman changing herself into a pigeon.
At times a witch will seem to struggle against an unknown force stronger than herself.
She will know things she has not seen with her eyes. She will have opinions about distant cities.
A witch may cry out sharply at the sight of a known criminal dying of thirst.
She finds it difficult to overcome the sadness of the last war.
A nightmare is witchwork.
The witch elm is sometimes referred to as “all heart.” As in, “she was
thrown into a common chest of witch elm.”
When a witch desires something that is not hers, she will slip it into her glove.
An overwhelming power compels her to take something from a rich man’s shelf.
I have personally known a nervous young woman who often walked in her sleep.
Isn’t there something witchlike about a sleepwalker who wanders through the house with matches?
The skin of a real witch makes a delicate binding for a book of common prayer.
When all the witches in your town have been set on fire, their smoke will
fill your mouth. It will teach you new words. It will tell you what you’ve done.