Poems of the Week



The Woman and the Giraffes

The woman remembers:
once she was a member
of a family of giraffes
their skin so warm
it baked the air to terra cotta.
A giraffe’s strength resides in its neck
in its long and muscled neck.
Its suffering, too, resides in the neck
in its bending over tropical trees.

One day, the entire herd was blotted out.
Their heads, slender knees, spotted backs, gone.
Only the necks remained, oblique giraffe necks
confounded amidst blank paper
like boarding ladders on an airport runway
clumsily dragging themselves along
after the planes take off.

translated from the Albanian by Henry Israeli & Lluka Qafoku


The Tulip Craze

The drums open like an umbrella in gray rain.
A thought is resisting gravity.

At this hour the tide indicates nothing,
the restless smell of mildew.

Small shafts of sunlight
come uncombed

through the colander of clouds.
Territories are urging toward statehood.

Somewhere nearby a young boy
sticks his finger in a dike.

Cornflower, compline.
The girl in braids sang me down,

the storm had run its course. The damp
red petals of her voice in the still-wet street.


Not Another Poem About Icarus

Not another poem about Icarus
Not another elevator
up in the arms/down
uplift downdraft
Daddy-and-the-dress song

Oh, when I was still a lint
upon a suit
dancing and dancing
how hair and motorbikes gleamed
now the two-wheelers
pass themselves down
through wormhole dream hole
into whole outer
garment factories
where girls all melt to grass,
you see,
because they couldn’t—
that is, the doors,
the steps, you see,
the up and down of them
went only


Frida Kahlo

A hummingbird fell
in a pan of heated
oil. Purple-crackle
& glitter-sizzle. Frida
picked it up, three inches
of slender feather, brushed
it off & in a luminous
whisper repeated:
Look, if I loved you,
it was for your flying.
Now that you don’t fly,
I don’t love you anymore

Frida was split
by a metal trampipe
& onto the blood
they said spilled
a piece of gold.
Marvelous gold landed
in her open body,
a red orchid-goiter
& all the people
stood staring & saying
“La bailarina, la bailarina,”
little dance
shaped like a keyhole.

Look through the hole
& see her knot of monkeys
rumbling around her breasts,
touching her ovaries,
their hairy fingers spread
like a Japanese fan,
& unlock the keyhole
into a Mexican zócalo,
a Mayan girl selling
fried grasshoppers in a basket.


all from Crowd 2.1 (Summer ’02), Eds. Aimee Kelley & Lily Saint

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