Arielle Greenberg received her MFA in poetry from Syracuse University, where she taught literature, cultural studies and composition and served as poetry editor of Salt Hill. Her poems have been published The Indiana Review, Quarter After Eight, Verse, American Letters & Commentary, Fence, Lit, and other journals; her articles, reviews and interviews have appeared in Rain Taxi, Women's Studies and Electronic Poetry Review.
you have that pink-and-white shirt like a surly picnic
that summons the fire ants from their larvae
you have that mouth that spells T O R N A D O
propelling straw and Chryslers and everywhere
you have those eyes that are nighteyes:
cicadas, unsung fog, a steam of sailors lost at sea
who made the popcorn? who made the movie? you?
you douse time and because of you we wear our wristwatches
on the suicide side of our wrists
you have the ears that spilled blue cinders and cause Hawaii
you have the speech impediment which snaps off and on
tiki lights in neighbor yards all summer
when you die your talcum powder five deaths, we get lemonade
it's not fair so we celebrate Cycolthymia Day in your honor
buy red and blue streamers, eat only flapjacks,
listen to country singers at the wrong speed over public address systems on parade
you have the exact weight of three hundred and twenty-two sparrows
you have the lunchbox which grants us to catch fly balls
when you replace the cap on your thermos
bless you o goddess of pop flies! and when it's not baseball season
sanctify us with your everlasting balancing act, you who manufacture roadside carnivals
out of nothing, not even the smallest altar!
who made colored sugar? you? who made collateral?
we sit around at diners arguing your dogma over sunny-side-up
you sigh and our mailboxes fill with circulars
They were only too proud to comply.
They were indigenous to the area, but ache had monopolized the small storefronts and hand-
painted service shingles: the ache of hunger.
And so they hungrily prevailed, like a den of cats forced to build the pyramids.
They held their chins high.
They were free to be startled by their bondage.
It was a fresh addiction each new day, laboring this way, and their minds and hearts, pale organs,
rooted readily in the exchange of silver for oil, aluminum for silk.
When the guerillas reached the gate of the ghetto, it swung open easily (it had never been
locked), and they were weepily emancipated.
They left carrying the bricks in the their teeth like newborn cubs.
The Lady Vanishes
What if the landlady was a spy
& you & me were a broken pair of garage lights
a busted motion detector off & on all night & the landlady's son
really very nice, like we didn't expect?
What if the magicians were Italian
& the cardboard cutouts a whore
& the calf not a murdered or abducted spy at all?
What if you & me were neighborhood cats
& Latvia not the homewrecker we dreaded
& the scowling replacement in her tweedy hat was gone
as quickly as she came?
What if the moon was not full of berries
& the unborn next child still with his father?
What if your father was a straight-shooter
& your mother taught music to the children?
What if the flower box was a red fish?
What if the hounds were quiet as hares
& you & me went tripping off to a sleeper compartment?
What if Europe was two feet long
& this was last May
& all was well?