Three Poems by Ruth Danon

BOMB 29 Fall 1989
029 Fall 1989
Tony Tasset 02

Tony Tasset, Domestic Abstraction, 1987, hide and painted wood frame, 17½ × 31½ × 2 inches. Courtesy Annette and Melvyn Klein, and Feature.


The purity of intention remains
unresolved, no more evident to the eye
than the geographic north pole.
Take comfort, then, in knowing this,
that the pole of inaccessibility
has been sighted several times
from the air. Aquatic animals,
birds that fly think in three
dimensions. But when I stray
from this earth I am lost.
Each time I fall I learn
from the inside, bone in bone,
                    the hard crawl.
                    The universe
is oddly hinged, a swinging door,
a thought surrounded by a halo.
I make up the rules as I go
along. Sometimes alter them.
It’s not always a question of choosing
the most complicated version.



you can’t say it   you can’t say
the color red is torn up
is bleeding the color red
is pounded to bits

no bees in this garden not
this year no flight
of butterfly only this
a wasp stings my ear

we say quiet
we say the pain lasts
only a little while
we say the red is vanishing

it hums in the blood
we clutch the idea
red we say we bring it back
in the mind’s eye

it starts as a fact
this little porch
this silence this cry
at the heart’s core

black hole, perimeter
immoveable point at the center
say red say nothing
say nothing red nothing any more



Surely this is a particular moment.
Surely it has its own spelling
Surely you know what I mean.
Already there have been
too many near misses
and not enough light slanting
into the room. If you think
of drawing the lines, then this
is just another form of confusion.
It has its own searing nostalgia,
its sting and burn, its early
death. Still, to tell the truth,
the line of desire is absolute.
And what else do we have left
anyway, as a sure bet, but
the sudden glad start,
this special fall from grace.
Take this loveable awkwardness
of flesh, these consonants, take
beginning and end, take the
tongue’s curl, lip, heart,
hesitation, the long full note
held on the breath. This cry
is no description and never
could be. Relentless
architecture. Sad story.
Surely you have been afraid.
Surely you know how
to go on.

​Tony Tasset

Tony Tasset, Domestic Abstraction, 1987, hide, painted wood frame, 11½ × 35 × 2 inches. Courtesy of Feature.

Ruth Danon’s book of poetry, Triangulation From a Known Point will be published by Blue Moon Books in January 1990.

Duration by Ruth Danon

Originally published in

BOMB 29, Fall 1989

Featuring interviews with Kevin Spacey, Robert Gober, Deborah Eisenberg, Christopher Guest, Isaac Mizrahi, Kazuo Ishiguro, Marvin Heiferman, Bharati Mukherjee, John Heys, Maureen Conner, Hillary Johnson, and Ketan Mehta.

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029 Fall 1989