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I heard of a man
who says words so beautifully
that if he only speaks their name
women give themselves to him.

If I am dumb beside your body
while silence blossoms like tumours on our lips
it is because I hear a man climb stairs
and clear his throat outside our door.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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if wants to be the same as is

if wants to be the same as is

Essential Poems of David Bromige
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Fluke Print


Both ends of this dull pencil have their say
and go together. For when I try

the tapered point, finding I am led
to write before I die its darker things, instead

catch my eye ascending to the nub?
(the nodding jester's blunt "ah there's the rub!")

that daubs above the dismal lines below
a flourishing "I would not have it so."

Dyslexic, mute, it holds - that subtle curse -
a mirror up to nothing, in reverse.

My aching slant, my least that can be said,
is followed backwards by a nulling thread,

whose wavings-off, dismissive counter-sign,
become facetious, affable, benign,

a clear, upending scrub, as though?the baser
word that everything must go

were giddily extinguished in the air.
What all I cannot say is written there.


Among our parsing, several moods
of selfhood, conjugated thus-
I am, you are, she is, word-chess
where grapple our twinned solitudes,

where all our spoked divergent lines
of empathy come to quarrel-
we seek a marriage of true Mines
in the first-person plural.

First person? Plural? We won't add up.
The pronoun buckles under weight.
Our one-for-two's an iffy trope,
dichotomous and incomplete

unless made whole by that pure is,
the metaphoric predicate,
whose blithe between-where synapses
can couple kinds, make this a that.

Sooner said than done. Lying alike
conjoined, subjects that in part agree,
we give it the old college try,
our both I's open, cheek to cheek,

and listen, knowing how, just when
you touch your inner, stranger half,
my me divides you from yourself,
but seeks you there, again, again.

How else to conjugate, or dance
our pas de deux of Her and His,
to merge and part, on the off chance
(however wrong) we is, we is.

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The Essential Dorothy Roberts

Three Girls


The woods suggested it, the forest of urges,
And we undressed and walked among the leaves
To let the skin release its impulses
In little starts and pleasures lighter than real.

The delicate touch of woods checking the current
Between the flesh and world was most to be trusted
Of all the possible ways of coming to be
More than the personal triumph of the child.

Leaves, fronds, stones, mosses, brooks, tendrils and flowers,
I thank you for the delicacy of those hours
Letting the impulse out, the shower in
Of quick cool contact and the bars of sunlight.

Into the forest vanishing for persuasion
We found the dusky place and golden haven
Fern wand and cedar bough gradually gave-
Still is all lover's touch partly of leaves.

From a River Boat

I saw out the open doorway of the hold
the river writing a page
line on line this is a way to read

Here it seems that to move
through wrinkles of running water is to be all we need

The sun is not shining the wind
is only enough to set up little waves

To be absorbed in this writing in this silvery word
is to by-pass identity it has seemed
to be all the way composed
in a quiet meditation obliquely told

Look too at the water to see an outlook of history
a written page flowing along into fresh impulse
here charging the surface of words the silent and spoken records
and the wind turning the lines into another outburst

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