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Jacket 16 — March 2002   |   # 16  Contents   |   Homepage   |    

Sharon Dolin

Three poems


                — after Howard Hodgkin

               Oh meteor of memory
most voluptuous apricot ever
               juice of you is a love letter
listing round my tongue you happened
               in a shuttered room in Tuscany
in a village so small we became local gossip
               so wet with you my tongue turned
into your fruit the sun burned down to a pit
               then the undulant hill swallowed it
male moose licks his lips to show he’s
               ready what you showed me
that late afternoon in hot shadow
               was juice of apricot light
pouring over us into night

Ode to Fernando Pessoa

                             (from Álvaro da Campos)

Ah, dolorous lucid grand limpid electrical fabricator.
Tensile-fevered scribbler.
Scribble, arranging our identities to part with distant bells
For a distant bell, totally concealed, antagonizes.

Who wrote us, who engineers us, grrrrowwwl eternal!
Oh for trespassing retinal mechanisms in fury!
I’m fury far out and within,
For all my selves — nervous dessicated forest,
For all of us — pupils for a day to come to quays where you sit!
Take hold of us with dry lips or grand rude modern horns.

You gave us our beard amazingly of pearl,
Gave expression to all of us minus sensation,
Like excessive contemporaneous divas or maquettes.

I’m feverish in hand — motorized like tropical Nature —
Randy as tropical humans — day ferry and fog and forcible —
Can’t do, can do presently, bang tambourine or
Past be our future,
Pork or pheasant, his is to add or peasant.

He has platonic and virginal entrails deluding us electrical.
Soporific aurora, he’s a human forum, a Virgil and Plato,
He peddles to Alexander the Great, to a secular Talmud sins quaintly.
Adam’s cave of tears,
Cerebral escalator to secular seeming,
A damper ecstasy curries transmission for these symbols are volunteers,
Rouging, raging, cheering, struggling, ferrying,
Fashion me an excess of caresses oh numinous corporeal caress of elms.

Ah, power, express me like a motor-sex in prime!
Complete me like mama can, ah!
Pose derriere (not vital), triumphant like a late-model car!
Pose me not penetrate me physically of all you are,
Raise, guard me to do . . . ah, briar me completely.
Doses of perfume, or layered or lured and carved
Destined to floral stupendous, black, artificial and insatiable!

Alas, ruin us, alas break us, hell ho la foule!
To do or keep as ‘to do or keep jasmine mountains!’
Commerce; invaders; crooks exaggeratedly well-dressed;
Members evidently of aristocratic clubs;
Squalid figures too biased; family chefs vaguely for lease
And paternity not current, hearing it traversed. Oh
Call it day algebra . . . ah algebra!
All passes, all that passes and never passes!
Presence emaciated accentuated does cook us!
Banality interesting (and can a sage keep her indentured?)
Dazed bourgeois, may he fill her generously,
A feminine grace is false to those pederasts that pass lean-tos;
And today the simplest of gents elegantly
Capers and sequesters himself.
He finally tunes-almost-your labyrinth.
Ah, come, you desire sere or satin, near-distant total.

Oh fashion us mountains! Oh mannequins! Oh ultimate figurines!
Oh arty girls in utero cater to a gent that can compare!
Oh the grand Amazons come vying sexually!
Oh the electric announcers gave him a stare and he disappeared!
Oh lactating comes like a blue-jay, construes he is different.
Hey, cemetery, our mother, cement baton, new voice processors!
Progress equals armaments gloriously mortified!
Cure us, as canoes, metal-haters, submariners, airplanes!

Ah, move us totally, attitude: calm an affair.
Ah move us carnivorously,
Minor voice and vista, or coitus grand, banal, you tease
Oh coitus totally modern
Oh minors contemporaneous, form — actual and proximate
Does his system immediately calm the Universe!
Now revel, a cow metallic, dynamic, deistic!

Up the whole jokeway, haste to the Derby,
Murder enters dentists until you capture dust! (Chorus:
A certain alto could enter through nonhuman portals!
and the old harem mimes:
‘Alas, alas, alas, cat and dry!
Geisha me, porter a cab, inside encounter us, voices, sequin us’
‘Hey, Sir Levantine,’ ‘do da rude chicken of blood.’)
Seems no one savors them a sou!

Oh feral waves, oh aluminum old champions of feral ululators!
Oh keys, oh ports, oh come boys, oh ‘gwan in da states,’ ‘oh revoke all doors!’

Oh moment truncated like a foggy road,
Oh moment of striding rude men, noisy and mechanical,
Oh moment dynamical passing him to dance as bacchantes.
So fair and so bronze baby dares a dosie-do with eyes.

No one says ‘I exist au-pair.’ Jeered, derided, engender me.
Encat me in all our combinations.
Eye me in all our skies.
Gee, our general does helixes with all our natives.

Gull, gar, like all porcelain similitudes! Hoopla!
Ah, no. Sere us today apart!
Oh no sir. You today are a gent and today’s a party!

Door Litotes

Not ugly, really, off-white gone grey with pencil
               scratches made upon it.

Not too short, You grew-some, the father chuckled
           chucked her chin each time

scoring the new highest mark
         her head reached: language

of measure not a bad way to compress
               years into one space:

superimposed height of twenty- over sixteen-
               over twelve-year-old.

I’d like to take the door with us
        when we move, noticing the never-

been-painted graph not without aesthetic
               value: conceptual before conceptual art.

No longer a girl’s body but a mother’s: not so sad
               to become a door after letting in seed pushing

out the hatched cry. Once knee-to-heel was finger-length
               then finger to wrist, now not so small

(nearly three) well past her knee he almost grazes her navel, standing —
               not bad, being a breathing flesh-and-bone measuring door, not bad

at all.

Photo of Sharon  Dolin

Sharon Dolin’s Heart Work was published by Sheep Meadow Press in 1995. Her second collection of ekphrastic poems, Serious Pink, is forthcoming from Marsh Hawk Press. (‘Fruit’ is from that collection.) She is also the author of four chapbooks, most recently The Seagull, a letterpress chapbook forthcoming from The Center for Book Arts and available through them in December, 2001. Sharon teaches poetry workshops at the 92nd Street Y in New York City and is the coordinator and co-judge of The Center for Book Arts Annual Poetry Chapbook Competition.

You can read her review of Darkling: A Poem, by Anna Rabinowitz, in Jacket 18.

Jacket 16 — March 2002  Contents page
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