Summer 2012

Table of Contents - Vol. VIII, No. 2


Poetry    Fiction    Translations    Reviews   

Len Krisak


All Flesh Is Grass

My left wrist: is this sinister? The surgeon
Said that it would go away, the skin
Re-knitting then erasing, Cheshire grin-
Like. Still though, self-effacing or emerging,
Wouldn’t it look just the same? Same fish’s
Fossil spine? Same faint white line three inches
Long in barely bristling keloid? Stitches
Snipped out months ago, it never itches,
But . . . the snapped bone just below the surface—
Perhaps (I don’t want to seem superstitious)
Its patch of blue titanium and screws
Is pushing back? Perhaps I should be nervous
As the herringbone’s fine pattern pinches
In—or out. I wait to watch it choose.


Answering Caligula

—(on the old Ritz’s rooftop, Boston)

Our Cincinnatus, bronzed astride a mount
That raises slightly one (right) dainty hoof,
Outfaces a façade: the Ritz, whose roof
Tenders the stars too bountiful to count
A “garden” sparse with diners, band, and dancers
Who ask if Washington appears aloof.
The horse’s silent neigh is all that answers.

Glancing below, one couple comes to wonder
At how the general seems to float in air
Despite a tomb-sized plinth that props him there.
As if dark blooms were to be trampled under
Some day, if there should ever come the need,
Bronze fetlocks poise, preparing to prepare,
Miming the prance of Colleoni’s steed.

The rider, though—no more an avatar
Of that republic’s jut-jawed condottiere
Than a Gattamelata mercenary;
Revered beyond the noblest Bolivar—
Ignores the Garden’s tulip tribute laid
About him, ranked in hues that scarcely vary:
From plum to purple to maroon, they fade,

One shade into another, like the paths
That lead one on, oh, imperceptibly,
From sculpted ducks to swanboats, by degree,
Past ponds with willows in their aftermaths,
To where Shaw’s 54th march Beacon Hill.
Saint-Gaudens cast this “bell-cheeked” infantry
To drill in ramrod stride; they stand there still,

So far from “sticking in the city’s throat,”
That every new campaign, crusade, or quest
Begins where they do, bluecoats marching west.
Now in the night, two small floodlights take note.
No 50s fins slide by, “servility”
And “savage grease” the merest ghosts at best.
A golden Mylar heart goes sailing free.

The Public Garden loops symbolic chain—
Low catenaries waiting for the morning—
To guard its plantings with a sculptural warning.
The thin black links that hardly would restrain
A child, scallop the walkways and festoon
A fine rose arc of sun that winks aborning
And lights the day that will be rising soon.


© Len Krisak


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Poetry    Fiction    Translations    Reviews   

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