November 25, 2007


shouldn’t be read out loud.
They should be written in solitude,
the paper folded into small squares,
plain side out, then passed in secret
like billets doux,
carried around all day
buried inside warm pockets,
pressed against thigh and groin.
Their powers of seduction
so private,
biblical injunctions
leap to mind.

They should be denounced
from the pulpit,
debated on talk shows,
those who write them
subjected to lengthy screening
at airports and borders.

They should be preserved
in a lost language,
the key to deciphering it,
another language lost
to all but a few,

both inscribed
on a hard black stone
with a name like a small flower,
to remind us how encrypted
beauty is,
forced up from rootstock,
and tongue-tied bud.

—Jeanne Wagner

Posted by dwaber at 01:02 PM

November 24, 2007

Ars Poetica

Sometimes I think of Shelley’s heart,
which was finally buried,
but there was that hour on the beach
when his friends worked, so inexpertly,
to build a funeral pyre:
struggling with the wind
and the wrong kind of kindling,
with the wet exhumation of his body
from the waves;

suffering from the stench,
and the smoke, and the way,
even after his body was consumed by fire,
the horrible sac of the heart still held out,
gorged on heat,
scorching the hand that reached out for it,
refusing to burn.

—Jeanne Wagner

Posted by dwaber at 02:03 PM