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Ange Mlinko

Two Poems

These poems are collected in Starred Wire,
forthcoming from Coffee House Press in Fall 2005

Femme Fatale Geography

1. Monet Lake

She hides in the Midwest, tucked behind an ear like a blonde in corn

Between the baby sleeping and the husband studying
She can’t play music

Seething like champagne or a midnight city where girls
Cross big avenues alone

She keeps enjoining the children, Be careful of the windmill!

This isn’t the same village where a bucket on a rope
Hung on weighted branch
Balanced in the fork of a pole
Brings water to the second floor

Wild birds don’t glean from the chickens
That seed can be hulled from her hand

Someone repairs a shutter
Another drags provisions home
Greeted by a small child
Water freezes around the boats
A sort of street fair develops on the river

Manmade Monet Lake’s shaped like an eye

But safe within a general surround of Realism

She puts her eyes to the open lozenges of the fence
Glad she is not in Carleton E. Watkins Wilderness

Though there is a real man in the center of that Eye

Drowned the winter before, or the winter before that
And he’s what the neighbors see everything through

2. Vertigo Tree

A Californian dreams it is European
To live in San Francisco, deriding nature

Denying The Birds souvenirs
Though the donkeys are good actors
As seen on outdoor screens in summer
At Picnic University

“All the movies are talking about us”
Say the lovers

The fact is nature makes him taller
Amid the hills palms pines

As stools do when it gets to be the rage
To put stools at the horseshoe bar

Because it is European to stroll
Into palm fronds like false whiskers
And the hills which
Like shaving on a ship
Cause beards indirectly

Dreaming his mustache is excessive
At the top of a palm

Like skates at the repeal of skates that all things deuce
Meet bad fates

Adieu, old countree

From the top he can savor milkshake stucco terraces

The blonde wines

“You must be European,”
He thinks at the brunette bob with the latté

He gets a taste for fresh fruit, just fresh fruit
As rings taken off for a massage are forgotten

Everything’s Carousing

Even the baroque gets lost in it.
Grass vests the dirt lest wind, twanging the skyscrapers

that merely sleeve the elevators, as we go sleeveless
except for the atmosphere, file it under Oceans.

Recalling the equations derived for ballistics —
aiming cannonballs is not like squaring lintels,

and skyscrapers are all lintel.
There isn’t a straight line amidst all these that never meet;

I will write away for it. A sound that breaks
“the record and the tie with the most singles in a season.”

Sparrows petulantly, like petals, adding subtracting
to crumbstrewn cafe tables, then boarding the ferries.

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