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The Judge’s Wife

There’s a tower the lake calls Brother.
She whispers, someone has lost a white dress
in my eye that swims like nightfish.

Her brother answers, stupid girl. That’s the moon.
The lake sleeps without pillows, on the wrong side,
the heart side.
She sings the song to herself:
Stupid moon. That’s the girl.


          A warlike house.


They salt their skin with ginger and then attack.
The females have thicker skin to survive the kisses.

A script:
The monk, a charming politico, materializes to curse the black city.
I am carrying a rich woman’s child.
One shoe has fallen and is lost.

There are many theaters. Shark theaters, starfish theaters,
theaters with the tops off.
Theaters with crowds waiting for night to reach their town,
pulling behind it lion cages and upside-down ladies pasted with red glitter.


I look back but don’t see myself
in the lake. Don’t see
the dress I lost. Don’t see either brutal-
izing lover. Don’t feel the sugar.

I notice I am emptier with you.


At what time of day did the judge’s wife take her {          } from
the oven?
Head. Bun. Sheet cake. Bird.

At what time did the judge’s wife call on her advisors?
The blue time. The tooth time. The current time. The blue-green time.

At what hour did the judge’s wife dissolve into my very own cave?
Sword. Bullet. Rope. Gas.


          More violence and more nudity.


And so I never know which fountain we’re at, or who invented the
fountain idea of a fountain in a park at all, or the idea of pedal boats.
Or the idea of swans.


The judge’s wife makes a brief appearance
to throw a party she has coated in syrup
and gilded all the cakeboxes,
ordered fondue sets for everyone to take home as favors,
become what she is meant to becoming.

All her life she has wanted to avoid
the bribe when giving 
is her nature, a seahorse, a dragon
curled into its own spiny sweetness
at the sign of company. Treasure. Stranger.


          If we made a baby, I would do all the carrying. You wouldn’t
even have to take one month.


The master removes a slice of cake
from the slave.
It’s what we don’t understand 
that pleases us, under a glass bowl.
Blue light, we’re just a thin skin
for your surgical sectioning,
an orange for your silver knife,
a pear in a grove of golden balls and vine.
They have taken our keys to the end of the night.
We cannot drive, drunk as we are
on the judge’s wife.
At the end of the night, our keys fall
off a cliff in wet embrace.
Fall off the end of the city-world, of line.


The tower has stolen another child, and all his children are white.
Bring me back my nightgown, 
whimpers the moon, but she is squinting in the treedark.

The lake dreams she is a horrible girl who cannot tell the difference
between a magician and a devil.

The lake dreams of years spent lost and naked in a marriage to the judge.

(she wakes) (still) (wet) 

Arielle Greenberg’s books include the poetry collection Slice (Coconut), the nonfiction work Locally Made Panties (Ricochet) and the revised, electronic edition of the Gurlesque anthology (Saturnalia, coedited with Lara Glenum and Becca Klaver).