Ark-Shaped Plus Neck
She walks the shore, kempt and clipped,
just-so wings, a lion’s glance across
the blue savannah, no sand gritting her double lids,
her etcetera’s a dance of known nouns vs.
the lapping of perception: an oceanimity.
Really, the bird’s Sphinx mysterious,
female by stripes, fallen from a cloud the size
of a house now laddering the sky
with V’s in proportion,
dangling legs probably painful from the walk.
I want wings, rings the rest of creation, let us
ream gravity. Here at my feet,
six more reckon the water with their stares,
absorbing the adjectives of another exit.
Safe on land, on sea and air,
fewer survive each year.
52 dead discovered by authorities
—BBC, 26 June 2017
Agadez is the hiss in the Sahara
from the town fountain
relatives or a Big Man or a soccer friend
for money to migrate. Or just to leave
before slavery cups its glass over them
You also get glimpses of people inside cupboards
or trunks if you can pry them
The fountain is dry
what money they beg they spend
to hire a ride on a truck
in the middle
of all that sand
where they must use their phones
Those without power
those with mothers whose
houses have already been sold
are left behind
at the truck
they beseech planes
crossing the relentless blue, they walk
while they walk
or touch their foreheads
to the sand
which lifts up wave on wave
while you watch the bottle of water to your lips
A Beautiful Boy
who knew nothing of dying:
the choo-choo ran out of steam, the meat
on his plate never bit back.
The to be verb
gone awry, leaving beauty
behind as irrelevant now
as the glory of becoming.
It is unreasonable to expect otherwise.
It’s unreasonable to expect the beholder
to love any less. Out of you
a new baby squalls in distress.
At the edge of the mind
spiders into the wrought
as if steel and tight, quick,
the tiniest said thing
itself to the steaming head.
No snapping against it, the dawn
unwelcome even if slept,
the sun of it ungentle,
the broken egg sliding
into all the parts, the parts
yet always always
or the wood of the wrought
would tap worse.
Lacemaker and Scarecrow
Rowed in the sun,
scoliosis-bowed girls bob
at their lace like spiders
while singing in chorus
to keep their place,
songs about their short lives,
angry at their fathers
for selling them into this terrible toil,
their mothers for bearing too many,
and of pricking babies dead.
One girl, forced to sip soup
so as to still move her fingers,
could still see, and in the field beyond
stood a boy, black-coated, arms wild
and hooting at birds
eating the oats at his feet.
Mostly the boy watched the girls,
and at the end of their songs,
he ran at the crows,
black specks from where she sat.
After the gleaners, he was gone.
Had the farmer caught him
napping and clapped his ears hard,
too hard? Surely he would need
a guard for the seed in the spring.
She sang the loudest as if
her singing would keep her
from blindness, and bring him back.
Once the mistress fell sick
and left them at their lace,
and she rose from the bench,
silencing all of them,
and made her way into the field
to where the black coat
flapped. The farmer
had ripped the cloth from
the corpse to fool the birds.
She felt the branch that
held the black stiff, she touched
where the fingers would be.
Terese Svoboda is the author of All Aberration, Laughing Africa, Mere Mortals, Treason, Weapons Grade, Black Glasses Like Clark Kent, Cannibal, A Drink Called Paradise, Trailer Girl and Other Stories, Tin God, Pirate Talk or Mermalade, Bohemian Girl, Dogs Are Not Cats, When the Next Big War Blows Down the Valley: Selected and New Poems, Professor Harriman's Steam Air-Ship, Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet, Great American Desert. She lives in in New York City.