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Three Poems

I came to, feeling broke 
about the head,
a crown of spoons in my hair.
Funny, I hadn’t thought myself 
thick enough still for all this 
eating and being eaten.
At the party of miraculous drugs
I’d been teetotaling my way along:
Repeatedly sniffed past,
I knew everyone 
was behind me with fogged spoons 
hanging from their noses.
The rest of the night was a blurry string 
of stop signs worn 
like a necklace around 
the neck of an Italian girl.
She posted herself at every corner:
Noli me tangere.
Spooning the hostess I told her
the party of miraculous drugs
was behind me, with a nose
hanging from its disgusting face.
She started feeding spoonfuls of drugs
into my hair. She fed 
the Italian girl into my hair. 
The stop signs curled 
like burnt paper, red,
they split my ends.
I had to lie down 
under the miraculous bed,
my head pressed flat to the floor.
I felt her shift above my temples,
surreptitiously tickling
her own nose. I couldn’t even 
roll on my side, 
so heavy was my hair. I thought,
I’ll always have her up there,
sated and tender in a tangle.

At the Cathouse

Seven kinds of leopard splayed,
and within each leopard a smaller,
more subtle ear pressed my pulse.
Every you’re the one rebounded 

its course around my vascular shame. 
I stayed wholly present; my shame 
left crying off a clothes-line.
The leopards set me awry; they were 

toothy guideposts with new gravity. 
Undulation, I passed over you again, 
and again your sensual maw became 
a paradigm of weaving with the right 

and unraveling with the left. 
Then your lame prey conjured herself 
in a shroud of mist and I 
choked, the image of what you want 

with fingers slender as a wave of knives. 
From some inner darkroom then
the leopards breathed out black light
while I turned my eyes to them. I sanctified

the leopards, each distinctly barred,
each tensile, taut; each palm to head
echoing a brush behind the ear,
a cupping at the base of the skull
like I was fully constituted. 

If It’s Not Coming It Must Be Going Away

Drop the slow winter jacket
to the floor. I pray for the cold
to stay in it forever. In six months
I will still be young and forgetting winter. 
The new trees will slice 
my fingers open. Trees will spill out. 
But for now I have somehow 
placed my insides on the surface. 
Every time a train whistles 
my redbreast collapses. 
Nobody can see her, but we all hear 
the whistle. Ice thickens the pond 
each night. Each day I find 
a fat rhombus of sun and stay
on its edge. Here the sidewalk seems 
unreasonably happy, and even 
the mud around the busted hose 
could birth my children; I’ve been 
all over this place. I’ve lived here 
longer than I’ve been alive, 
so slowly does time leak 
into this town. In winter 
I conceive of the trees and am 
surprised to be a supporter 
of snow, a center, a core of value. 
We come so close to absolute 
zero we nearly stop our atoms 
in their shivering. Or the reverse: 
one foggy bowl of soup 
heating my motion all night 
on the porch with visible breath.
Everything exposed 
becomes a border full of open doors. 
Impure. When I leap 
off the edge of my porch I believe 
in the ground below to fall to. 
I believe in the ground
below that as well.

Dan Rosenberg is the author of cadabra (Carnegie Mellon University Press) and The Crushing Organ (Dream Horse Press). He has also written two chapbooks, A Thread of Hands (Tilt Press) and Thigh’s Hollow (Omnidawn), and he co-translated Miklavž Komelj’s Hippodrome (Zephyr Press). Rosenberg chairs the English department at Wells College, where he also edits the Wells College Press Poetry Chapbook Series.