New Ghosts in the Balcony, and: When the Light Came to Lucille Clifton
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New Ghosts in the Balcony, and: When the Light Came to Lucille Clifton

New Ghosts in the Balcony

Clairvoyant sugar-beets, dragons in the tea room, milk pails for headsOf cabbage spilling from the opera—Darling, I am in love with your window:

The Bento box of socks, zoo animals, and the zigging of sparrows. The humOf swans, the new ghosts filling up the balcony, your monkey mouth.

All arranged flowers, in the bedroom or burning in a trash heap,Are autobiography. Windows looking out onto one dog barking at his shadow.

When I return from my shadow, you greet me with a ladder and light.Something to climb in and out of the asylum washrooms without troubling the mad

Guard for his one rusty key. What if this was the other end of the world?Not drunkards or falconers or a head of state tangled in a fishing net.

Not the stairwell abandoned in a field and three children climbing into dust,Bee pollen, and rust. Not even the tethering of milk and moon to famine.

What if the other end of the world is a black barrel filled with fire, your handPlunged into the burning recovering a dove that sought out the wrong light? [End Page 88]

When the Light Came to Lucille Clifton

A Holocaust quieted into wagons and magnolia trees.The off eye of men followed the children into their heavensAnd deaths. The peril of summer announced itself

In the pigs savaging a field of onions. The fox howledThen ate his white sister in the sky. A broken blouseOf clouds ringed the corpse. Ten men plunged into water.

Nine returned. One sang. Nobody will know thisAs light. Hunting dogs leaping into the woundOf a deer. Mothers climbing up the railing of a bridge

And coming down limp as rope. Animals, animalsAbandon your instincts. And children. The lightOf man seeks to destroy you. Fashion your own deaths.

Carry your living from their dead places. Speak as if a fingerPlunged into your throat forced light into darkness. [End Page 89]

Roger Reeves

Awarded a 2013 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and 2008 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, Roger Reeves’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, and 2014 Pushcart Prize. King Me, his first book of poems, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2013. He is an assistant professor of poetry at University of Illinois at Chicago.

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