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Seven Poems

I do not like old water.

The water in the ocean is old

The lake is old

But maybe it’s not

Subject to the logic of time, of old and new.


When we sat on a slab of flat rock

I was repulsed

Until I felt you

Behind the museum.

When I was lost in water I understood

But I won’t tell you.

I looked at the round mirror

Affixed to the tree.

The round mirror

Affixed to the tree

Reminded me

Of The Mirror of Simple Souls

Which I had read for class

Earlier that year.

The Mirror of Simple Souls

Is about

The seven stages of annihilation

The Soul goes through

On its path to Oneness

With God through Love.

The title The Mirror of Simple Souls implies

That a book is a mirror.

It cures the soul of its complication

By manipulating its reflection

Or revealing it.

A book, like a mirror

Is held to the face.

Complication or simplicity lies

On the surface, in the face.

If language is sullied

Through use, is this use?

Each moment of wakefulness

Is followed by delusion.

To suffer means

To be acted upon.

When I think of you

I want to make a picture of you

So I can keep you.

A glass of milk with ice

The elegant cross

Of your arms

In a sleeveless top.

The hair is love; it bothers the face.



Medea was a pharmakon  

O   My oblivion

Later  You will really lose

Antony   So tough

He drank horse piss  

The secret   Use everything

Address someone   Who is not  

History   Deep gossip  

Absence   All is horizon 

It is unskillful to eat

Your tool  

Rome   Happens  

When you really start

Falling apart

In aught   August  

A strange narcotic   Next

How do we surrender

Youth   Or try not to surrender it

Intrinsicate knot  

A neologism for love   Not war  

Begins with nay

Supersaturation   Rips you apart nightly

To create   The night  

Isis and Osiris  

As water is in water

Women’s secrets   Darkening

I saw the back

Of a black hole

Living here   Shattered

By the horizon effect

Ultra chartreuse   Venus  

That youth  

It was pissed out of us

In the spring water

An ancestral urge

To taste for poison  

Time is out of joint  

Dripping slowly toward Christ

You go there   There is talk

You go there and you talk

And that’s history   Doubt

The wounded chance   To think in public

Body is gossip

Hidden   In nets  

Its shadow   A defect

This language ravishes

Turn the ship around   I will follow you

The I   Where the nay was

The worm will   Go through

The guts

Of the beggar-king

A crooked elegy

Digested   We will give up everything

To experience each other

At the severest limits of   Our lives

Out of time  

In Judas’s unnaturalness

And villainy 

The messenger 

The real messenger

Form    A lengthy suicide

Effacing the whole




There’s no beginning of the end of horror.

I want love from this petroculture

Apocrypha and you, uncut

In a sweater wet with silver

Telling them nothing.

In the inner life of history

It’s space that is profane, not Earth.

Each word is a bribe, literal and hieroglyphic.

Objects become dangerous.

No, they show their danger

When the sun goes completely, completely down

I want to see many pictures.

I wonder what my life will be like.



The cause of history

A basic irrationality

Surrounded by lives.

The past, a dictator, says love.

A collective orgasm

In the presence of reality.

The drum kicks in sadly

At the joke.

I don’t want to be in the ground.

I want to be in the world

And to protect myself from it.

Oh, this is a rigid art

That sings inward

Like the shame-flower

In domesticated green.

Will it all be destroyed?


I will hear it on my radio

In the twenty-second century.

It will be like a snow globe inside me

Life, barbaric

And delicate, lyric.



I dip my dirty hand

Into a new tub of lotion.

A loss of faith seems the only way forward

Earth is more than surface

We’ve barely touched it

The past

And it goes away constantly.

Squeeze the foam

Like a wildcard

A blue joker

Out of me.

It’s oral
And anarchic

Nothing but hell.

I want a baby

Milky vetiver

There are signs on the mountains

And death loves


No, survival does

And survival looks like death

But it isn’t.

When you die

Another you

Appears immediately

And that’s annihilation.



God said

I couldn’t help but be God.

The romance between the maid

And the Lord.

The androgynous prelapsarian body.

Resurrection, because the world

Thinks of us.

Second life, because it sees us.

Let the mind recognize itself

In the kitchen.

It will ask for nothing

Like sleep. Only a trace of it

Will remain in the body.

Who made this book?

I made it, with my powerlessness.

To live, lie down in snow.

Love is beautiful. It can be abused.



Origin is the goal.

To want to be denied it

And worse, to be denied it.

It’s almost the end of disaster.

I miss my disaster.

Sending me down on the dumbwaiter

Touching all the elevator buttons

In tight kidskin gloves.

In the doorway you say,

What do you have to say for yourself?

In a theater of the whatever

Life is not about happiness.

Leah Flax Barber is from Chicago. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she teaches writing. Her poetry and criticism have appeared in Peach Mag, Reading in Translation, Winter Tangerine Review, and Salon. She lives in Western Massachusetts.