In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Fly on Windowsill, and: Long Busy Day, and: Honey of Generation, and: Drone, and: A Prisoner, and: Late Winter Rain
  • Alicia Ostriker (bio)

Fly on Windowsill

1. You hairy intrusive beast says the fly buzzing on my windowsill late in the fall about to die

tumbling over in its agony leave me alone for God’s sake leave me my pitiful dignity

The day is azure and breezy there outside yet I cannot look away from the anguished fly on the sooty windowsill

Buzz buzz: what if you feel like tepid tea, like a rusty Dodge, the fly says, you are still a member of the privileged species

the killer species that uses its intelligence to be the world’s butcher and poisoner

A toxic cloud floats by, alabaster and rose go watch the salt seas rise and the earth crack eager to return your insult

2. So here I am with my meaningless choices this way and that hesitating, fearful should I tell the truth to my daughters [End Page 60]

should I forgive my husband how boring shouldn’t I spend more time trying to heal the world

if I would only recognize I am no more than that fly or that cloud

Everything would change, I would find myself illuminated from within like a paper lantern carried by a whore in a Paris street fair

or like a dragon kite I would fly in a high wind and be pulled back to earth by a string in a child’s hands, or I would be cactus

blooming blood-orange in sand, or monsoon charging across a grateful subcontinent, or lava plunging over old cinders to the seething sea

How unfortunate none of this will happen— [End Page 61]

Long Busy Day

Espresso bubbles, I shout Breakfast in a minute up the stairs he comes down robed, we have

coffee, toast, cherry tomatoes, cheese, fish, juice, almond pastry, the HeraldTribune then the long busy day then evening

lying in the tub after a smoke I remark economics doesn’t interest me the three things I care about are individual

human lives, then art and beauty then politics and cultural history and mythology I’m thinking: apart from the personal stuff

on the other side of the tub my rational man says truth then fun then honor, by honor he means both reputation and doing what is right

head to foot we recline in the warm steam while I remember a few summers ago the tangy peachy cool night air

that blew in through the bathroom window as we stood in the tub looking out side by side trying to locate the comet

with the double tail, ah there it was off to northwest over the neighbors’ charcoal trees difficult to see, like the lightest pencil touch [End Page 62]

Honey of Generation

I am shy with them since they became free

this one lily a bass player in a rock band then an editor actors and artists her lovers and friends

this one lilac in her father’s business smart astrophysicist with two daughters

of such brightness it makes me blink this one hyacinth a singer carpenter bold rock climber

makes a living doing something with computing of which I am ignorant

they are all so cool they give me chills

then here am I the blown peony

when they remember my follies and failures committed in anger or pleasure let them forgive me

flesh of my flesh bone of my bone going on going on [End Page 63]


Get a move on it says every year,

day, hour, minute keep going, keep up the good work, go on with

your task, it never stops reminding me how badly I am doing it

I have to straighten out my love life first get that on an even keel

I say, but it says don’t fool yourself love lives never get straightened out

they are by nature crooked get back to work you don’t have forever

Live to you now from the hypothalamus here it comes again old drone

at the base of my skull says listen to me woman you are nothing [End Page...


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pp. 60-66
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