ISSUE  1   2   3   4   SUBMIT

Three Poems

Stephen Potter


Mineral Box Set


regarding those transactions

between dogwoods or

the synonyms for your antonyms

or the stop-go of other buds in April


or the reaction of lithium with horniness,

or the redaction of two, or a late

return to frost, or a hand

cooling in a refrigerator


or the weld of hand to handle, or the fit

to hip, or the firing of a cupric gaze

greening the smaller rooms

within rooms, or the re-do


of the crown prince cutting paper flowers

to cover bits in magazines,

or the names accruing

a public history, or the speeches delivered


on riverside tracks at 3 a.m.,

or the dazzling bodies strikethru

struck out, or the tomes rehearsing

a more private letter.









                        henna, oxblood, russet—            the man at the bar


cruising where a boy stands:                        what marks


            by the glassy water                     did he etch in sand?


voice of the pulse cut and flying—                        young, so young


            just beyond the perceived moment of danger,


cut loose in lyric            sewn into a panel sprayed with blue sequins


                        where we used to go,                    witness


to the swift arrivals:                swollen lymph nodes,            diarrhea,


            no T-cells.              somewhere between last call


and dawn.              somewhere,                    their message breaking


            matter, light—                        the intimate departure point of witness


and those inexplicable crushes            dreamwords spoken


                        this side of sleep.








            in states unborn        in accents yet unknown


what were Caesar’s battles but Caesar’s pose.


                        sunlight, bare orchards, my heart


flew aloof.            red geese blood.            in his tent, under


            his standard—                    his liquid waist.                  that was the Nile.


the sun shone.        everywhere he turned was luck.


                        here—          the die is cast.       his finger traced


my gentle cleft.         a zone for grappling, the sun cold


            over the map of lingua franca.       a diver’s delicate arc


what to inscribe on his triumphal arch?      the coronet open


                        grenadiers forged the river


really a stream       really a trickle.      slice


            of light—        a flock over water—        sacrifice


without heart.       this body, for instance.      what is


                        any hand but offering


or reproach.       his, the white tunic.      amour of innocence.


            a chink in his prose.      a knotted halo.


stripped to the waist—       not stippled by light       but stapled


                        nailed to the rostrum.      O


but that I would have loved Romeo more.


            that is the promise of renunciation.      what


were his rattles but his prosaics.      that men should fear


                        a necessary end.      between the act


of a dreadful thing     and the first motion—      a reflection


            of hair in a smoky mirror.


premonitioned.      pre-motioned.      years before the actual


                        immersion—         a greek intuition.


a divine cult.         whether Caesar will come forth today or no


            how many ages hence shall this lofty


scene be acted over?       its bronzy glint.      and what is any knife


                        but passage.       or presage.


any thrust but ache.      achievement.        a moment


            to release the proverbial birds.


(NOTE for “Carved”

Certain lines are twists or echoes of lines from the work of Lyn Hejinian, Louise Gluck, Carolyn Forche, Barbara Guest.  Most of the italicized lines come from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" and "Romeo and Juliet.")