back toJacket2

April 1998  |  Jacket 3  Contents  |  Homepage  |  Catalog  |  Search  |

Jacket 3 logo

Michele Leggott

snake & jewel

Five poems


when will we live like that again?
first there was a city with its moons and cars
lawless comets and such discontinuous delight
that even going for a walk around the galaxy
was icecream in the park, sweet momentum
like a scattering of stars arriving to read
the book of tears to a crowd expecting opera
what next but the caduceus, dazed      
imperatives wrapped about a talking stick
face to face and turn by turn reared back
to flap the wings of vision overhead        after this
the lily with its open mouth and ribbon spathes
bumpy erogeny bespeaking
the immaculate shape of things to come


what can you give me that begins with hinna ?
a vision twisting and twisting torch flame or genetic
material from the island of the first morning
a tenderness taking the lyric and turning it inside
out because nothing will ever be the same
a tantrum in the real house of days because some
of them must be picked up and lived despite
a vicissitude oh vicissitudes devouring
the delicate provender of body and soul
a patience on the ladder two steps short
of the full house each keeps for the other
a bed where text is getting around to being
what they want to do today        helix a rich tissue
helix her helix her helix her helix



and she’s elixial elixirate a mystical etymology
suffused in his arms he drinks her she is
the fruit of the tree the river channel he swam
to get where he was going precious body
spread out along its honeysuckle paths deep bloom
being deep bloom being the names of his limbs
not as but here she touches him remembering
the words the wounds the double breath
the commotion not here but now his heart opens
precious fruit of the body shaking the tree
soluble drum on paths where she jumps too
Shekhinah bright heart reversing annihilation
jewel daughter song daughter light daughter
be laughter be stings be spoken be loud


the daughters of light, what are their qualities?
I come home from work and there’s dinner to fix
I get into bed and it’s swing down low goodnight
good morning waking up with you and the story
of my luminous being is lying on the floor
with the rest of the clothes I took off, hidden phases
of the mama I am and you want
to be on top of before the old and holy men ask
how it is the ever-queen distributes sugar grains
to the righteous then makes them clean their teeth
and block the sun with creams before they leave
for school        this you face sweet poet we cannot fall
asleep or in love until you see me through
the unsapphirine unsilvered mirror of where I am


out the window on damp wings heady scent
of lilies melisma’s little kiss on the dark side
of whatever I was in the barefoot prayer flying over
overflying flown over overflowing coherence
one about the other history and desire objectively
perfect in a temple of particulars ample roma n fleuve
a river novel on the full and just about to close
distances considered immanent but never audible
see we open at a page of choice the stars are out
the words are pure wonder        hyssop hia tus
we breathe calypso phia ls and there’s no trouble
distinguishing works and days        we speak
the ties then let them go flying in the places
where love was made and darkness held it close

Michele Leggott

Michele Leggott (b.1956) is a New Zealander, with degrees from Canterbury and British Columbia. She teaches at the University of Auckland. Books: Reading Zukofsky’s ‘80 Flowers’ (Johns Hopkins, 1989), co-editor of Opening the Book: New Essays on New Zealand Writing (Auckland UP, 1995). Poetry editor of Landfall 1991–92. She has published three collections of poetry. DIA (Auckland UP, 1994) won the 1995 New Zealand Book Award for Poetry. Guest lecturer, University at Buffalo (NY), April 1997.

Photograph of Michele Leggott at the Duncan Conference, SUNY Buffalo 1996,
copyright © Loss Glazier, 1996, 1997, courtesy Loss Glazier

Jacket 3 — April 1998  Contents page
Select other issues of the magazine from the | Jacket catalog | read about Jacket |
Other links: | top | homepage | bookstores | literary links | internet design |
Copyright Notice: Please respect the fact that this material is copyright. It is made available here without charge for personal use only. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose

This material is copyright © Michele Leggott and Jacket magazine 1997
The URL address of this page is