The Lady A

I will arrive on your doorstep penniless,
old after vaulting the King
of Araby.
You always told me
to go screw a rich man.
I ran splay-legged that’s how
I went heedless under my own
steam in a room
of gold I wove into straw,
wore in my hair. Spare days spent sideways
galloping choking mountains
of garnet red dust casting
hot shadows mounted
on a mare’s back
sliding beneath her belly like Belle Starr.
New scars impressed themselves
upon my lips.

Materialized each morning,
disappeared, ach breakfast—
jam-and-tea. All the perfumes
on my hands sweet, then dark,
commanding days:
“Down, Erebus. Cerberus, play
dead. Sit. Stay."

Bending the king’s embrace
I faltered, could not change
the air—rust obtained my fingernails, corroded
my skin
in patches I thought only of you.
Armor grew furry with neglect. Could not fill
days or ewers.
Cerberus bit
ran away in circles.

The vast quiet.
The empty cell.
A chambered heart,
the riches.

Crystal knocked echoed bones.
Solemn beasts roamed bleating, haunting
rocks, dying leaves vermilion.
There was some keening.
A dry cough.
Pebble in the singular.
Particles exhibit


In My Garden

There was never a God
in my garden. (Hydrangeas.)
I am the first of me and the rest
came as I—singular;
alone—except of course twins
and such. From my spit of land, spirit level,
I looked out.
None were admonished.

Frictive bracts, gusts; hear?

None warned not to pick
the tree. The vine, fair game;
the game, all fair and fatty.

If l am to understand you talk in tongues.

Lobes urge poetry and troops.
Ancient stars depart, locusts arrive.
Only the craziest believe themselves
God. (Horseflies.) (Hydrangeas.)
If doubt is heresy I
(a buzz) then (silence)
and more—Silence!
No rattle. No hiss.



The Physics of a Wish

We blow frantically against small flames
to make them go—

Crisped wicks, naked, deposit
wax on icing;
creamy roses.

Other evenings, stunned by loneliness,
we idly note lapse
between lung and spark.

Time is wave, the fire dancer.
Space jiggles.
Collide sugar and eggs.


—Elena Alexander is a poet and writer. Her recent work has been published in American Letters & Commentary and Rattapallax 11. She is the author of Footnotes: Six Choreographers Inscribe the Page (Gordon + Breach, 1998) and her short story, "Sic Transit" (BOMB, 1996) received Honorable Mention in Prize Stories, The O. Henry Awards, the Best of 1997. Alexander’s translated writing appears frequently in the Serbo-Croatian journal Album, and has also been featured in Mentor (2000), a collection of Slovenian writing. She currently teaches at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark. She has just completed a poetry manuscript, "Head Shots."

Fall 2005
The cover of BOMB 93