Three Poems by Mary Jo Bang

BOMB 72 Summer 2000
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It’s Winter in the Eye, and Like Ophelia

The long bones lay her down
until indigo dawn slivers sleep from her spent eye.
And blink

at the border of wincing
it’s ice at the window’s lip. And left her. Handsome he was
like glass with light reflecting, a lake

where one hung white flowers on a willow’s silvered lash, where she
ledged ever closer.
If a single wave is brevity and brevity

the whir of wit then laughter is an ocean. But this?
A witlessness
that will be come April what?

Does she not know herself?
Every petty artery.

Day Two of a New Bear

Steam lisps from the crack where the continuing broke
and let loose this clean slate. Here we sit, watt and what.
Happy to receive: the list, the lean, the hawk,
the handsaw. Happy for the ear: hamulus, malleus, tube-tonsil.

Reverberation is ever the wonder: song of a garden
caught in a robin (we were hunting snails in the irises).
Love-lilt and howl- the flute joins late but no loss;
war ditty and dirge. Every road leads away.

At the door marked, Should Not Be So:
A slope waits to be told up or down. The thicket waits where it will.
You ’II know a dismantling by the refuse it leaves,
the slope by the slant of its bill.

Given to Believe

It was taste, wasn’t it? The sharp bite of the bad apple
from the red-only orchard, the catnap on a couch
in a camisole woven with a fair-weather weave.
A mirror with a feather motif caused her to comb her hair
lightly while the dead hung humongous
from the fire escape stairs.

In a dress that was seeped in green tea she married the deep.
Now, mumpish, moreoverwrought she—in bed past none, was it?
Her past afterlife (o present) pilloried.
Scenario of a tattooed shoulder escaping a satin strap,
pillar lip of a spiraled next.
And what of the pillowbeer on which her head rested?

Eyes on glaze. So sad. The pill masser could mix nothing
that could cure that that.

Ponies we ride them under the dying grass moon.
To many to love is to be tied with twine of invisible hue.
Here’s a mooncake for you, melon—coconut and cashew.

She lay near the sea she weeped. She said she
and her love were one and two. The sea was three and there.

 

 

Mary Jo Bang is the author of Apology for Want, which was awarded the Bakeless Prize.

Originally published in

BOMB 72, Summer 2000

Featuring interviews with Om Puri, Uncle Mame, Donald Baechler, Monique Prieto, Aleksandar Hemon, Paul Beatty, Arthur C. Danto, Julien Temple, and Miriam Makeba.

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