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Poet's Pub

-Rita Dove

Coming together
it is easier to work
after our bodies
meet paper and pen
neither care nor profit
whether we write or not
but as your body moves
under my hands
charged and waiting
we cut the leash
you create me against your thighs
hilly with images
moving through our word countries
my body
writes into your flesh
the poem
you make of me.

Touching you I catch midnight
as moon fires set in my throat
I love you flesh into blossom
I made you
and take you made
into me.

-Edgar Allen Poe

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, of the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In it's autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

Manet In Late Summer
-Otto Friedrich

With his eyes closed
The pain is cobalt
Blue flaring to brilliant
Orange whenever he is
Touched. There are no
Black edges and no shadows
To it, only this thick
Burst of purest color
In a field spread sap
Green to the horizon.

All week he has tried
To paint a young woman
On horseback, a bugler,
An Amazon, anything other
Than flowers. Sunk to
The chest in warm water,
He nibbles a loaf of rye
Bread tainted with ergot
And swears if he could rise
Tonight he would slash
His last canvases to rags
With a palette knife.

As his movements shrink
The world grows too great.
All he knows must now be
Contained in two clusters
Of white lilacs, the cut
Flowers flaring like hope
Where they rest on black
Cloth. His bath has cooled.
Across the room a vase
Of pinks and clematis
Catches the fading light.

-Rita Dove

She wanted a little room for thinking:
But she saw diapers steaming on the line,
A doll slumped behind the door.

So she lugged a chair behind the garage
To sit out the children's naps.

Sometimes there were things to watch-
The pinched armor of a vanished cricket,
A floating maple leaf. Other days
She stared until she was assured
When she closed her eyes
She'd see only her own vivid blood.

She had an hour, at best, before Liza appeared
Pouting from the top of the stairs.
And just what was mother doing
Out back with the field mice? Why,

Building a palace. Later
That night when Thomas rolled over and
Lurched into her, she would open her eyes
And think of the place that was hers
For an hour-where
She was nothing,
Pure nothing, in the middle of the day.

The Pomegranate
-Eavan Boland

The only legend I have ever loved is
The story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.
Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
Ceres and Persephone the names.
And the best thing about the legend is
I can enter it anywhere. And have.
As a child in exile in
A city of fogs and strange consonants,
I read it first and at first I was
An exiled in the crackling dusk of
The underworld, the stars blighted, Later
I walked out in a summer twilight
Searching for my daughter at bedtime.
When she came running I was ready
To make any bargains to keep her.
I carried her back past whitebeams.
And wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
But I was Ceres then and I knew
Winter was in store for every leaf
On every tree on that road.
Was inescapable for each one we passed.
And for me.
It is winter
And the stars are hidden.
I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
My child asleep beside her teen magazines,
Her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
The pomegranate! How did I forget it?
She could have come home and been safe
And ended the story and all
Our heartbroken searching but she reached
Out a hand and plucked a pomegranate.
She put out her hand and pulled down
The French sound for apple and
The noise of stone and the proof
That even in the place of death,
At the heart of legend, in the midst
Of rocks full of unshed tears
Ready to be diamonds by the time
The story was told, a child can be
Hungry. I could warn her. There is still a chance.
The rain is cold. The road is flint-colored.
The suburb has cars and cable television.
The veiled stars are above ground.
It is another world. But what else
Can a mother give her daughter but such
Beautiful rifts in time?
If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
The legend must be hers as well as mine.
She will enter it. As I have.
She will wake up. She will hold
The papery, flushed skin in her hand.
And to her lips. I will say nothing.

Go to the Lair, or to the Gallery!