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Five Poems, by Lisa Russ Spaar

Violet Madrigal

No bigger than horse-flies,
the lawns smalt with them,
each tri-heart bloom a giant’s head
afloat a thread of stem;

yard sugar, whose lust scent reels
then numbs the nose with ionine—
pagan flesh the ancients crushed
to make a stirring wine.

Fleur Napoleon claimed and strew
in heaps upon the grave of Josephine,
lover to whom, after months apart,
he wrote before reunion, Don’t wash.

Love token, my trembler, glance, my woo,
now pressed & turning blue the pages of my book.

 

Spring Onion Madrigal

We’d taste their tender woods
in the milk of mother, goat, cow, if we could.

I’m wet for them, erect lashes
rising like emerald strops from dead grass,

minute pearl bulbs below, hairy; tubular bundles
above, fresh, young, a word hung

in the throat, like stung, or lung.
More winter leek now than sprung

anew, than upside-down brooms,
vernal strops Persian Jews once used

to strike one another at Passover,
I gather them like clover,

still slave to whet, to beginning’s urge.
My penance to adore their Lenten scourge.

 

Wisteria Madrigal

Unlikely legume,
clock-wise, counter-, I climb

seeking heaven,
blue & corseted as veins.

No need to feed me.
But prune me hard, with need.

Then watch me fell the arbor,
crush the rotted porch

with dandle. With tremble. Drupe.
A secreted dream unloosed

on roadside, bining lesser oaks
with toxic pendulous choke-

hold. Your sister lover saint raceme.
Your jewel. Bride. Your Queen.

 

After Madrigal

Like me the sun tonight can’t settle,
water in a faceted glass, ricocheting

like the first peering out of bandaged eyes.
Forgotten until this moment: first light

after all that saline upside-down dark,
the clenched smothering, tunneled portal

spell, skidding into latex, preliterate wonder,
all thought and reason later. Or prior.

Why ever open to this naked arms-breadth
reach of nada? I’m not talking death.

You know that. A cloud passes
over, flushed with rose. Post-tristesse,

I’m a mess of newborn plasm in the spheres
dropped by love into orison. I linger here.

 

Microdosing on Hiatus Madrigal

Sub-therapeutic prep, these administrations
of hours, of day-long stretches

apart that in time will seem mere seconds,
eye-blinks, minute cellular responses

nonetheless true to the stem root, hiare,
to gape, to yawn open, term from anatomy.

Aperture. Rupture. Snow on a wedding
day, suture-less wound, heart-sore, a bed

over which lost light falls, withdraws again.
Then comes back in. Trust the bending.

No scythe, no thief in this physick regimen—
will there be an end to it isn’t the question.

There is no question. And no name
for this drug of us, that unpause, that dram.

 

Lisa Russ Spaar is the author of Orexia, Satin Cash, Blue Venus, Vanitas, Rough, and Hide-and-Seek Muse: Annotations of Contemporary Poetry. She directs the Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia.

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