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Three Poems

All the fowl, land animals, and fish fear him.

Muslims assert that he had an infidel wife named Waila,
who died in the Deluge, and was thus not aboard the Ark.

Also dead: the Watchers. Two hundred angels who commenced in unnatural union with human women, and taught them forbidden knowledge, e.g. the resolving of enchantments.

The myth of the Watchers began in Lebanon when Aramaic writers tried to interpret the imagery on Mesopotamian stone monuments without being able to read Akkadian text.

The Other’s forbidden knowledge. Noah sails off so such pollution can’t happen, a kind of reverse Creation. And the waters parted.

Noah is never heard to speak; he simply listens to God and acts on his orders. 

Kill the first person who states the deluge had started, says God. Waila is baking when water suddenly rushes out of the oven, ruining her bread. Fuck! she says—or something similar—it’s raining! Does Noah hesitate?

Pay-Tree-Ark: The ark was expensive.



                        Soaked gall into the sponges
when the devils rode in,
                        and the women
                                    did not lose track of the days,

            the men on those poles teasing bats,
the men who said: you are not everything.
When it was dark, it was different:

            No one can touch us. Except
            hovering winged insects, not saints.
The men on top of poles sought peace

or stood out in the rain without a tree.
            Nobody drove their donkey ten miles to work
alone. No, few lived alone then,

            the wives with forty days of the kids.
Yeah, sure, a big commitment,
contemplating the desert’s white noise:

the men on top of poles.


Rock Talk

I want ten minutes on an ark to anywhere. Not even a destination, just—ark.

Ten single-edged razor tips of mollusks deployed in star-shape along the rock side, and the cold sea opposite pounding my hands, pouring into my lungs.

I could phone home on an ark, wherever it is. There would be a connection.

A life-ring, the eternal circle, an all-sugar, circular sweet to suck on, to counter the salt. A beacon to hurt the eyes, to show the blood from my wounds before the wash. A bell, Hart Crane on a buoy.

Why didn’t I buy a boat? I could have borrowed. Or I could have told the shrink, Hey, let’s think this through.

A covenant sounds comfortable, as if it’s an agreement between adults. Of course everyone is liable. All that quiet lawyerless ocean around us, sorrow only in waves.

If not, the slicing shell surface of the rock, the slithery moss.

Terese Svoboda’s most recent book of stories, is Great American Desert (Mad Creek). Anhinga Press is publishing Theatrix: Play Poems, her eighth book of poems, in 2021.