Dara Wier is the author of Voyages in English (Carnegie-Mellon, 2000).

Some Childhood Scene

As if somebody squared gravity for a while
little brown goat couldn't get its cart to start
Or tightened all of the screws and bolts a little
a blue closed door weighed more than the moon
More than they'd ever been tightened until now
it was impossible to rock the rockers
Something shrunk everyone's shirts
there were planets deep inside their pockets
As if somebody squared sleep and fed it all around
and this is where they opened their mouths
As if somebody took the wind away and told it to stay gone
and nobody saw the fire reflected in a window
More than anything it was how they went their separate ways
they left in silence, saying nothing
Something shellacked them, their eyes were glazed
& seldom
As if somebody squared torpor and dipped them in it
if ever a potion of stupor, a drop of paregoric
As if distilled fog came to fill in all the cracks
and a long red barge paused to take on passing thoughts
As if somebody squared vacancy & lit it with a torch
& each one had swallowed too many knock out drops
As if something bruised everything that used to move

Words Dissolving in a Cup on a Bedside Stand

A dread of comets once showed good sense,
Fear of saints, priests and popes rests
On rock-solid evidence and one's reluctance
To be near tyrants & mobs is understandable,
Likewise bullets, poison, especially poisoned
Oysters, and lightning, and in some circumstances,
Gold, wind, wood, cellophane, matches & ice.
Anyone in her right mind can tell when a mirror
Is a dangerous thing. Each additional mirror
Ups the ante. It's astonishing how the force
of gravity dishes itself out in almost all of
The right places. So rare to overhear-look,
There's not enough gravity in the vicinity of
That antelope, and oh, Dear Mr. Schmidt could
Certainly stand a smattering bit more of a good
Dose of gravity, too much gravity in the water
This morning, darling, a bit overdone, wouldn't
You say, that gravity by Miss Mason's tomb,
And still, barophobia toils everlastingly
In our textbooks. Sometimes "scare quotes" are
All that's needed to get a good case of the shivers
Started. Fear of trembling arrives like a wave
Of camels projected through the rings of Saturn.
A thousand hues are searching for your eyes,
Fear of flowers, mice, flutes, goats, music &
String, fear of seashells and mimes, fear of
Phobophobia. Suppose you're standing on a
Streetcorner near a bridge in a high open space
Watching shadows of clouds dim a vastness of
Staccato stars . . .


I think the gods were kinder then
When one of us had been harmed or
Torn one of them would look upon us
With pity and turn us into something
New, maybe a catalpa's anther or the
Iridescence inside a wild trout's scale.
Maybe a spider or a nightingale,
A good wrench or a fine lathe,
The headlights of a fast car
Sometimes a god would come along
Who couldn't stand to see us shed
Even one tear. Thus we have endless
Stars. Who gave the undertaker the
Big prize for his parenting advice?

An Emblematic Cap

Willow to willow, weed to weed,
Petal to petal, stick to stick,
A to A, key to key, back to back,
Pillow to pillow, paw to paw,
Pencil to pencil, clip to clip,
Stack to stack, slice to slice,
Swallow to swallow, turn to turn,
Step to step, kiss to kiss,
Narrow to narrow, open to open,
Chemise to chemise, hand to hand,
Nipple to nipple, drop to drop,
Now to now, then to then,
Night to night, sleep to sleep,
Spring to spring, fall to fall.