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Katherine Lederer

four poems 


      M A N D R A K E S
These porticos under the soil
Keep their coolness by keeping their
Branches to seek for the hand shapes --
Their form has the name of the May root.
The forthrightness of trees --
With their wait for the movement,
Their long and plain patience for growing.
It is the Lent of Vegetation before it rains,
Trees waiting to take up their figures.
Under the soil is a captain -- roots
Being the human form if they may. I trim
For to wait for the captain. Trim for to wait --
The sail shape is made in the image of our shape,
As if it were perfect and hadn't had motion.
That the stillness of the mandrake
That makes it the wood, not the soul
Making stillness. And if it were so, to be simple as thread,
Or to shriek like the nettles, the roots could then move
But they cannot.


      [ N O W -- W H E N   T H E   S N O W ]
Now -- when the snow is gone only
Garbage on a hill -- sometimes
Waste. It must have been
This paper -- this
Banner, rippling over the hill.
The contemptible shambles
Of the sick bird's trill --
Dark, leathern -- bell.
We had very much aimed for the entry,
The place of elation. The mouth was
Open, the small bird's tongue revving -
He said -- "in my breast, in my deep
Shooting sorrow -- my heart
It is old -- let me go -- "
We let him go -- dead bird
                                        a love
Is fraught -- in it -- hath
The wind blown true

      R E M E D Y
When the trees gave off
            a pittance
The blooms
                        no good to eat --
Put shit in a jar
                        Restore it --
the barenness of will
            Find its remedy in the half-contained
                        jewel box
With four of your fingers
                                    the jar to your mouth --
Hot water and rose petals
                                                adjudicating --
            you will have to own up
                        to this -- the water
                                    as a stand in for,
                        and the petals as symbols of,
                                                the two slim lips --
            Then, with your bile at a stand-still
                        and your face at a stand-still
            Go find a woman
                                    and drain your semen into her --
                                    The madrigal song
                                                of renewal
                        will lease out your heart to your body --
                                                and your soul will
                                                                        solicit your soul

      [ I   N E E D   T H A T -- I T   I S   M I N E ]
I need that -- it is mine
In the neat fold of a document
A raucous heart instigates bathos.
It is regretful. It is terribly stupid
On that humid day, in a heart
The musician played badly -- to think of an airplane
In descent, or an elephant -- a musical tent
The fat animals play in. A cauterized breach
Between dawn and dusk is old
And misused.
We seek light
We seek shells by the sea
We may demonstrate our selves
Here in the bush and in the brush
We may figure in the desirous effects of our breeding
We may figure in the effect of our esteem
Of our delicate hymn to our selves and our makers
Thus we seek him out. We will look upon him
We will orchestrate our reunion


Katherine Lederer
Originally from New Hampshire, Katherine Lederer was educated at UC Berkeley and the University of Iowa. Her poems are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Cello Entry, Fence, VOLT, and Verse: The Younger American Poets Issue. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, where she edits Explosive Magazine and Spectacular Books.
photo copyright © Kevin Larimer, 1999


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