The following comprises three of the seven Lauterbach poems published in Conjunctions:60, In Absentia.
saturated in the bright room
with a thin blue rug.
The pivot has some mystery
as in the dream: huge
white birds flowering down.
The morning was brilliant
but then junk
broke loose to scatter sky.
Was I meant to consult
this tissue of meaningless harbingers?
Make no mistake: behind
the curtain, a continuum.
Behind the curtain,
old dark thrown across space.
I have an inky drawing of a hairy
stick pressing the wind.
Lovely, now, the milky shade.
Behind the curtain, junk
orbits and a serenade to those
who keep watch while the ditch
fills with lost things. The distant river
flirts with light. The water is alight.
In the dark of a former moon,
If this were prose, little
agreements would obtain,
and you could turn toward
the missed like an angel on a fence.
I mean a bird, a bird
in prose. The spun ordeal
arises as a missing object
its body enclosed so to be
a convenient newsy thing,
the missing soldier’s spouse.
What exactly is intended
to be kept in this regressive frame?
Some figure? Some petty marker?
She will trade her mother’s
ring for passage. Let her come aboard.
Veet! Veet! The blue jay’s yell
is hollow the way that light blinds.
Up here in the ancient gold trim the news not yet visual
so that he or she or we are invisible to the naked eye
whereas the gold trim on her gown is etched
falling down along and over to the hem
like an evening sky.
Or like nothing yet announced
so the missing and the present are singular in their dress
as we await the address and the black
river of reading aloud over the phone
George Eliot’s intervention between the walls
so that we walk through them as if turning a page
we agreed again you and I as we have agreed before
you are not going to be with me on the other side of the wall
despite George Eliot and despite the man
in his pink house with the book
whose cover image is reiterated on the wall
the picture of the beautiful woman in black
who had to decide whether to be her portrait
or to be someone else
someone not like the mother or the sister
not like the man in the hotel room in his bathrobe
with his whore and his
so that the only thing to be said
is you cannot do that with me in the room
the walls of the room and the long view across the river
where there are others in their rooms
and the house from the other side of the river
as the life within is immense.
Landscape Without View
These intensities their wake the jar
fret the word
snow on dry leaves fret fret
the jar dark inside within in the dark
body o body not that anyone is here
the thick stiff night’s
am as of now how it is spoken
the slide between
the mere passage
and surely the blind spot
emphatic these intensities
not sheltered not yet drawn
by the most implicated
what it looks like
to halt crassly halt
and the new digital figure
semblance ushered from sequence
avenue or image
sucking at the animate
these contagious exceptions
even so the turbines hum
licking at stone
the contagion of stone
melded onto a screen
as if intimate
as if tempered
as if conditions prevailed.
Ann Lauterbach has published ten collections of poetry, most recently Spell (Penguin), as well as several chapbooks and collaborations with visual artists, including work with Ann Hamilton, Lucio Pozzi, and Ellen Phelan. She has written on art and poetics in relation to cultural value, notably in a book of essays, The Night Sky: Writings on the poetics of experience (Penguin). She has written catalogue essays on Cheyney Thompson and Taylor Davis, among others, and has been a visiting critic (sculpture) at Yale. Her 2009 volume, Or to Begin Again, was nominated for a National Book Award. Her poems have been translated into French and German. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, The New York State Foundation for the Arts, Ingram Merrill, and The John D. and Catherine C. MacArthur Foundation. Since 1990, she has served as Co-chair of Writing in the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts and, since 1997, David and Ruth Schwab Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. She has been a contributing editor to Conjunctions since 1984. A native New Yorker, she lives in Germantown, New York.