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May Swenson

Question

Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky

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The Tall Figures of Giacometti

We move by means of our mud bumps.
We bubble as do the dead but more slowly.

The products of excruciating purges
we are squeezed out thin hard and dry.

If we exude a stench it is petrified sainthood.
Our feet are large crude fused together

solid like anvils. Ugly as truth is ugly
we are meant to stand upright a long time

and shudder without motion
under the scintillating pins of light

that dart between our bodies
of pimpled mud and your eyes.

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The Woods At Night

The binocular owl,
fastened to a limb
like a lantern
all night long,

sees where all
the other birds sleep:
towhee under leaves,
titmouse deep

in a twighouse,
sapsucker gripped
to a knothole lip,
redwing in the reeds,

swallow in the willow,
flicker in the oak -
but cannot see poor
whippoorwill

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Women

Women Or they
should be should be
pedestals little horses
moving those wooden
pedestals sweet
moving oldfashioned
to the painted
motions rocking
of men horses


the gladdest things in the toyroom


The feelingly
pegs and then
of their unfeelingly
ears To be
so familiar joyfully
and dear ridden

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Analysis Of Baseball

It’s about
the ball,
the bat,
and the mitt.
Ball hits
bat, or it
hits mitt.
Bat doesn’t
hit ball, bat
meets it.
Ball bounces
off bat, flies
air, or thuds
ground (dud)
or it
fits mitt.

Bat waits
for ball
to mate.

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Cardinal Ideograms

A mouth. Can blow or breathe,
be a funnel, or Hello.

A grass blade or a cut.

A question seated. And a proud
bird's neck.

Shallow mitten for two-fingered hand.

Three-cornered hut
on one stilt. Sometimes built
so the roof gapes.

A policeman. Polite.
Wearing visored cap.

O unrolling,
tape of ambiguous length
on which is written the mystery

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Water Picture

In the pond in the park
all things are doubled:
Long buildings hang and
wriggle gently. Chimneys
are bent legs bouncing
on clouds below. A flag
wags like a fishhook
down there in the sky.

The arched stone bridge
is an eye, with underlid
in the water. In its lens
dip crinkled heads with hats
that don't fall off. Dogs go by,
barking on their backs.
A baby, taken to feed the
ducks, dangles upside-down,
a pink balloon for a buoy.

Treetops deploy a haze of

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Sleeping With Boa

I show her how to put her arms around me,
but she’s much too small.
What’s worse, she doesn’t understand.
And
although she lies beside me, sticking
out her tongue, it’s herself she licks.


She likes my stroking hand.
And
even lets me kiss.
But at my demand:
“Now, do it to me, like this,”
she backs off with a hiss.


What’s in her little mind?
Jumping off the bed,
she shows me her behind,
but curls up on the rug instead.

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Little Lion Face

Little lion face
I stopped to pick
among the mass of thick
succulent blooms, the twice

streaked flanges of your silk
sunwheel relaxed in wide
dilation, I brought inside,
placed in a vase.Milk

of your shaggy stem
sticky on my fingers, and
your barbs hooked to my hand,
sudden stings from them

were sweet.Now I'm bold
to touch your swollen neck,
put careful lips to slick
petals, snuff up gold

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Blue

Blue, but you are Rose, too,
and buttermilk, but with blood
dots showing through.
A little salty your white
nape boy-wide.Glinting hairs
shoot back of your ears' Rose
that tongues like to feel
the maze of, slip into the funnel,
tell a thunder-whisper to.
When I kiss, your eyes' straight
lashes down crisp go like doll's
blond straws.Glazed iris Roses,
your lids unclose to Blue-ringed
targets, their dark sheen-spokes
almost green.I sink in Blue-
black Rose-heart holes until you
blink.Pink lips, the serrate
folds taste smooth, and Rosehip-
round, the center bud I suck.
I milknip your two Blue-skeined

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