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Gracie Leavitt


In anteroom, on riverboat—my vox
in clammy anteroom, deserted: Were
inert as auks in warmer wastes, was how
we leaned, were made more lost, now not
so brave as we might want, perplexed,
more vexed, by banks of Yangtze River
thrumming, unmoved, while she shivered,
huddled under cloth. Was wet, was cool,
was bright; her shoulders brown; were brown
from all the sauntering we did that day about
his gorge, that small one there, was round,
she fraught and leaning on this onyx still
obstreperous and taut, plus sauntered on,
three more days gone, just prattled on,
just safflower picked, contriving sicko songs
while ready ever one ear to these waters,
strong, for thuds of poles dropped in by men,
them old, to move their boats along, those same,
you see, we longed to eddy down this river
on, yet never did, not ever, all my fault,
three ways gone wrong. Least thought to dip
the cloth, hers white, so pale as great auk’s
paunch, which skimmed this quarry freshet,
blessed, or of it what was left, was mostly dry,
forgot, to drape her, soothe her neck, to make
her bear some mantle where was radiant, so blithe,
to let me think I could a vision, one, though,
shivered by the river as I balked. Oh, say out
at droughted freshet how it’s not my turn
to want this; then would not know now
was my turn then to step into that freshet.


Jupes rouges et bleues et brunes forsook
or sloppy cast off, rather, in some patch
of molted shade tainted alternate of sun,
meantime he, doltish, sick on the carpet,
sulks, his bailing can of hedge apple
upturned in our fount, they motile,
bobbing off. Unstoppers dark paps
to his lips, apatetic in the toft, sings:
“Here I am again in Bolivia, dreaming,
oh, the tangerines you’ll open, every
one, and then not feed me one of!”
That now he knows it all as only from
a hilltop wholly made of scree much
attended by those men tidal several
miles above their mouths, he sobs this
silently, winded, and the ard takes off
the first of dirt as often as not, as any
other thing, as in cassocks on his porch
the others, lofty, ply contrarily unawares,
etiolate, beseated, some in waiting, some
in wanting, querulous, lumpen. All’s
as often as not, as any other thing— still
two ptyxis shows, waging love, volute,
before him form from under ard
and infinite. Anyway, who was it there
cast off their skirts, all hues? Say,
just when will they come back?

On the axis but across from each magnolia

Mirror-black birds stiff
on mirror-black boughs,
it’s mudtime, edenic, on
this pampa under stars, or,
depending where you are,
upon one drumlin, pitchblende,
grayed, where of rose hip,
of chicken scratch we chat
long into night, still beer-sour
from full sun and other actions
in the shade, all our arms our legs
still sticking out from blossoms
tossed from trees in tongues
and clots and threes, pink-tipped,
chatoyant, cluttering ghat
we wobble down where you
whose lover is banal watch
while I wade in these which
as I pass weld to then peel
from me as if I’d found
the spot where all dirt roads
you’d meant to find convened…
But pond skin thin as drum paper
breaks in the end with just
one beat too hard: She dives;
you turn; I see your face
as would I on your final thrust.


Three shirtless boys and one swan’s body in the winter water maneuver nearer bend of— to— but remember how you broke me at the toll beach, both your hands on both my hips? This while the other lovers went on braying, a dozen or so, slumped in the xyst, playing cards for keeps as always? This while we two made to unfold what we could and could not bear—he alone in the kitchen with a gun and the impartable. To think nothing of Arabella, poised akimbo, what a lamb, always forgetting her virgin’s two-step. To balk at, marvel—wreaks of marvel—can you imagine? The unconcerned face of her beloved; a bouquet across his lap all through the show. This while I wash dishes in your woodsman’s shirt, unbuttoned, and do some drying with rough sleeve as long as you won’t— All I can see is old men, can smell only cows and oil and piss—old men ignored by the zodiac—lashed to—just to stay standing. To go frame by frame by frame by frame and finally no impulse left. To be conceived by the incidentals; to be ever more complete. We two unfold what we can and cannot bear, abiding, queuing in the snow, thinking back to red earth in the mouth of— But for now there is this bowl of vile soup between us, and a book. Perhaps when the soup is finished, and the book. But for now I wash dishes and you won’t talk back. All I can see is old men, and yet, by this map of strobes: Three shirtless boys and one swan’s body in the winter water maneuver nearer bend of rail to see a flag in wind, and then of course to feel it move.