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   Jacket 31 — October 2006        link Jacket 31 Contents page        link Jacket Homepage

Sharon Dolin: Four poems

Missed Hummer / The Give, Seek, Am / This Scabbard’s Free / Lick-Over

Three Poems from the Sequence ‘Clare-Hewn’:

Missed Hummer

after John Clare

Missed hummer’s restive ripped nest to the ear
Off his tree and picked your asking hand
Tenting the mount, tainted with Lucifer.
Bear-climate tizziness—where rushing by he stands
Erred brisk-neck, admits sense-derangement near:
Like, I was in pearly throes, day were as a mile,
This sticky greed asking a humless drum
Of tearing up my face—will blunder-stand?

Swifts swell, hum used to reach him—hell to fail.
In mallow, groans the drinker, chugs that ale,
The floodman tuning up the whorish soul
And hell at least lure-listens everywhere.
So scried, replies, I should’ve wailed, deranged guesses.
End quiet minds as smoke burns in your tresses.

The Give, Seek, Am

after John Clare

This now false step for us lies all as one:
The boy crows testy, throws Frisbee at our heads.
Now thinks, A paw’s on fire, and his rise is back;
The give, seek look is handsome, he chucks us,
And eeks his squeals in Can’t!, and has a fit.
Beggars eating, he, on which bracken weighs the wind?
Then busses close, with now likeable arm:
His stinting mother rousts him in the cold
And the half-arrested dog growls low and robs
The hen felled, to eat tooth-and-throng and goes aloaf-
Ing. What? Chews the whelp? Better not with bittern spar:
The more vying thief, the more he’ll trou his way.
Teases sad-lib—a posture to the peace,
Awry, (father-groan), protested ease.

This Scabbard’s Free

after John Clare

You—thigh-armed—rifted trunks all knotted,
Licensed to war's disdain on this tiny isle of scabbard,
Tooth-tetched, tending sun-shaded swart
And hearty love of myrtle leaves above,
Orion, sky-arrested ruse to sigh and lunge
In careless acts, rude and very flecked
With ticks on deer and dear ones that have run.
Home to stowaways new-wallowed in expect-
ed isle that bower your eyes in strung boughs,
You ring the solar vanishing magicians
And witches (life so hid behind mythic know-how)
Thaw that infernal spell, those incantations
Humdrum; few torpors brew in the mind
To weave some figment of itself behind.


A lick over the foot doesn’t qualify as a crime,
           though a cigarette butt or a soda can not thrown in a can
can in the Netherlands. But a flick over the boot: a man’s
           still free to land however it might hypnotize, electrify, or outrage.
If you recline near the strand could you withstand a man’s slobber—
           do you find it half-funny—a liquid wave from a landlubber (not your lover)—
or half-perverted? How else to word it: In the nick of a rudder in Rotterdam,
           some policeman’s other gave not an utter damn
that the dames on the beach couldn’t sunbathe—sleep—sweet and neat
           (Would a finger on a dyke have caused a louder rave?)
without this predator (not senator) slathering saliva on their feet.
           Would you go where the foam slipper-foes its toes? Lap of salt waves,
lip-lap, salty tongue on the run: what does it signify? The lawyers slow to meddle:
           What’s to be done but make unsolicited toe-licking (a wettish fetish) illegal.

Sharon Dolin’s most recent books are Realm of the Possible and Serious Pink. Ms. Dolin directs The Center for Book Arts Annual Letterpress Poetry Chapbook Competition and she teaches at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York City and Poets House, New York City. Sharon Dolin is Poet-in-Residence at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts in 2006–07.