Rosanne Wasserman co-edits Groundwater Press. Her recent books include Place du Carousel (Zilvinas & Daiva, 2001), co-authored with her husband Eugene Richie. She is a professor at the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.
Listening to Reason
First it says, “Go this way,”
Then, “Go that way.”
There’s nothing left but one ten-dollar bill.
Flaps the blue umbrella in the fan-draft:
“We are not daft,” but that fine drift
Of facts attracts our fancy,
Attaché of embassies, ambassadors
Of shame. Please come to order,
Oh please, do it all by yourself.
Present yourself to me that way, some day.
“You have a poem called ‘Memory,’ don’t you?”
After Seder looking for dessert.
Reward this year: a box of Martian Lego.
The hyacinths at the shrink’s are drenched but fragrant, and inside
A green polyvinyl UMBRELLA STAND is labeled, neat, as such.
My students brought me apples yesterday. My plans go forward.
I sat in the home of my ten-year-old’s friend Jabed, and met his mom.
His two older brothers wore t-shirts, jeans, sarongs.
Where the bay cuts by Plandome, before the lake
The cell phone signal fades.
I end the call and take a look around.
Who planted that bank of forsythia?
In the year 2001,
It is twenty feet high at its zenith, a crescent
The length of a pleisiosaur,
Unmessed-with, the color
Of sunshine in this April morning storm.
Light a candle. George the cat is missing:
George the Siamese.
The worm we’re talking hasn’t yet been bred.
Madmen fill the images of platters,
Madmen grind the images of spoons.
Clouds and locust trees.
Children on rectangles
Green as the wings of bugs:
The rose moon crescent fronts a
Highrise, fronts the setting sun.
Altering molecules teaches us how
We can alter our fates as well.
Do plants and planetoids
Orbit as dictated?
Maybe our loves will, too.
No one knows what’s on the menu,
Only the old prix fixe.
Cement pours off an overpass
All over the windshield: quick,
Turn the wipers on!
Already in the Fire
I carry to your shrine in an old basket:
old tan desk phone, fluorescent yellow sticker on its base with emergency numbers
Mrs. Bottitta’s spring-green-to-leaf-green pressed-glass mug with alligator-back-like diamond pattern (two packets of algae pills inside)
sedate stoneware mug with transfer of wheat staves (today it holds a single plastic spoon)
scuffed-up battleship-gray tape dispenser, which has lost its roller so tape is held inside by unbent paperclip,
packet of Frieda Kahlo cards, on sale from Daedalus
white pitcher with blue sponge paint and frieze of hearts and flowers, containing:
wooden twelve-inch ruler with metal pencil guide on edge
pair of black-handled scissors with point broken off, useful as screwdriver
white plastic letter-opener, handle embossed with image of Fuller Brush Man,
single bamboo chopstick
markers, pencils, pens, and pads of paper
postcard from Delos, from Dave Eastwood and Megan: Dionysian leopard amid
two copies of my last book, atop brown envelopes, some addressed, some not: they have
been there for years
two steel bookends, holding Robert’s manuscript and Beth’s
four-inch spray bottle of eyeglass cleaner, mostly full; I just used the ruler to measure it, in fact
self-inking stamp with the terms “Grammar, Content, Unity, Organization and
Coherence, Development, Language”
promotional radio tunable only to Bloomberg
four folders of drafts and notes for poems, drawings and writing from Marc and Susan’s workshop
stack of student work from last trimester
stack of drafts for intro to book of Sea-Year tales
bottle of spring water
spiral-bound engagement calendar from Mom, about movies, which I’m reading but have never kept; its price tag shows it’s from the Boca Mall’s Museum Store
handsome black Bostich Stanley stapler
packet (unopened) of beautiful “Gelly Roll” pens
carte-de-visit from National Shakespeare Co.
sheaf of Class Accountability Chits, with small black clip
videotape of Visions of Light, by National Film Archive
Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues from Amazon.com
March/April issue of Poets and Writers
long elastic cord, encircling that bottle of eyeglass cleaner, attached to conference nametag tucked into folder from New Orleans
pad of 3M yellow sticky notes
sheet of labels from government-issue TDK VHS blank tape
folders of handouts, syllabi, and reqs for Film and English
folded, my arms on folders, head on arms
A series of sorries to donors will not bring the
Calculus back to the fold:
Three cars at the bridge back
Traffic up to the hundred-tens.
Hildegard’s speechless this Friday,
Already dry-dock holds the sloops,
And I look for comfort in old stories.
On hold at Gateway, I’ve finally closed the
Windows in the walls,
Not the ones on the monitor, which is
Going dark a little early. Those of time,
Of course, close on my fingers.
“So you gotta see this show: it’s
On the end of the Doom Runners tape.”
“It’s been years,” she said,
“The songs were new, but now they’re newer.”
“Listen to the words,” she said,
And three crows tore the lawn.