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à la folie

Vaslav Nijinsky and Lubov Tchernicheva in Afternoon of a Faun for Ballet Russe

à la folie

by Taylor Roberts



If there was a god
Who could make a world in seven
How many thousands of days have
I sat not creating fire? No, I mean
A woman is not a rope-bridge

I am reaching for the apotheosis
An arc between catastrophes
The boys come and pass, looking at love
Through sunlit glass, and a woman
Is not a pier leading to an ocean

When I do not say Je t'aime
In any language
There is a great body of love falling
From these tiny hands that were
Never good containers

If there was a god, she would not be a
Woman is not a rope, a noose or lasso
No, I mean, letting down my hair
The need to give is not a dispensation
Dragging by my hair, a woman is not
A respite from despair, pulling down
My hair as I lay slack the reins, lay
Waiting to be stepped upon, a kiss of
Salt is no gauge for a woman

When I do not say Je t'aime à la folie
A great body of love
Escapes me
Through tiny fingers
That never were containers



[copyright Taylor Roberts 2016]

How to Get There

alfred eisenstaedt

How to Get There


by Frank O’Hara


White the October air, no snow, easy to breathe
beneath the sky, lies, lies everywhere writhing and
gasping
clutching and tangling, it is not easy to breathe
lies building their tendrils into dim figures
who disappear down corridors in west-side apartments
into childhood’s proof of being wanted, not
abandoned, kidnapped
betrayal staving off loneliness, I see the fog lunge in
and hide it
where are you?
here I am on the sidewalk
under the moonlike lamplight thinking how
precious moss is
so unique and greenly crushable if you can find it
on the north side of the tree where the fog binds you
and then, tearing apart into soft white lies,
spreads its disease
through the primal night of an everlasting winter
which nevertheless has heat in tubes, west-side and
east-side
and its intricate individual pathways of white
accompanied
by the ringing of telephone bells beside which
someone sits in
silence denying their own number, never given out!
nameless
like the sound of troika bells rushing past suffering
in the first storm, it is snowing now,
it is already too late
the snow will go away, but nobody will be there

police cordons for lying political dignitaries ringing too
the world becomes a jangle
from the index finger
to the vast empty houses filled with people,
their echoes

of lies and the tendrils of fog trailing softly around
their throats
now the phone can be answered, nobody calling,
only an echo
all can confess to be home and waiting, all is the same
and we drift into the clear sky enthralled
by our disappointment
never to be alone again
never to be loved
sailing through space: didn’t I have you once for my
self?
West Side?
for a couple of hours, but I am not that person



[copyright Frank O’Hara, 1960]

Haiku

Students sit in protest at Woolworth's in Jackson, MS. Photo by Fred Blackwell.

Haiku 

by Sonia Sanchez


my bones hang to-
gether like pinched dragonflies
shake loose my skin



[copyright Sonia Sanchez, 1999]

The night he fed me oysters

alfred eisenstaedt



The night he fed me oysters and I thought maybe this is love

by Taylor Roberts



The night he fed me oysters and I thought,
Maybe this is love. It happened at the peak
Of the taste in a little French restaurant
In the middle of Virginia. The moment
When the salt of the brine hits your throat--that,
That moment--why not call it love? He fed
Them to me like love. He held each shell
In rugged hands that could have strangled me,
But, delicately, he offered them to my lips.

I am trying to measure those moments,
Repeating the motion in dozens.
Is a lifetime of pleasure divisible by 12?
Maybe it is. Maybe I am
Too hungry. I really wanted roses. I don’t
Know why my heart died a little each day
Without them; why my crimson heart chose
To close like a rose in winter without friends.

I don’t know why his eyes were enough
To take me to the edge of the cliff, and
Not enough to make me undo my coat and to
Pour my body into the sand where it touches
Both the ocean and the sun all at once.
Why the feeding with his hands could only
Feel like love if we kept repeating it,
Thinking maybe if we do it again and again
The pearl will fall into my teeth and
We’d know.
We’d know.

I am really a pearl diver, a body of sand.
I can wait here, under the feet of
Tourists to be swallowed, myself, by the
Oyster, instead of the other way around.
I can wait until a piece of my existence
Is stolen in its trap and covered completely
In pearl, because nothing is worth the crimson
Pain of a closing rose, not even when
He feeds you decadence, not even when
He wants to love you well.

I don’t know why my lips were not enough
To pull the pearl from his hands
But you know, I loved trying.
I did love trying.

I did.



[copyright Taylor Roberts, 2015]

Peace Love


Peace Love

by Taylor Roberts

Dare I miss the days without the fog 
When all we sought was that purest note of wonder,
The jasmine gasp. Fallen Wasp,
I wandered where the groves once were.
I wandered, wanting nothing more.

The Interrogation Of The Man Of Many Hearts


taylor roberts anne sexton bombshell bohemia

The Interrogation Of The Man Of Many Hearts

by Anne Sexton


Who's she, 
that one in your arms?

She's the one I carried my bones to
and built a house that was just a cot
and built a life that was over an hour
and built a castle where no one lives
and built, in the end, a song
to go with the ceremony.

Nauset

Nauset

by Taylor Roberts

Nauset was your periscope.
It held out what all you wrote,
Lantern-pages, pipe smoke, smoke-signals, pages.
The waves waxed and receded like the sea was hormonal
And it shook you, didn’t it? It quaked you.

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