Issue IX, Volume IV : May 2013
Angela Ball's latest book of poetry is Night Clerk at the Hotel of Both Worlds (U of Pittsburgh P, 2007), winner of the Donald Hall Prize. She lives in Hattiesburg, MS, with her dogs, Maggie and Scarlet, and a cat, Frank O'Hara.
A country of watery drugs
And amateur magic,
Flowers bred to speak Latin.
The garden could tell
What was in our minds:
A large roast, a silken tassel,
A bruised walking stick.
We encountered dead mist and a new,
Bitchy concierge, also a fortune teller,
Who said. “Your fame will follow the war
That heals you; you will stain a flag; your children
Will destroy a footbridge by means
Of harmonic motion.”
We knew who we were when
We jumped up and down on one question.
Our favorite magician turned himself into a wheezy cocktail siphon,
Then into a cedar, the tallest of trees, then into a white horse
Falling from a bridge.
Candy from wooden stores,
Splinters of ice,
Old coats in a thin closet.
Vine drinking the air,
Donut gliding in cottonseed oil
On Brighton Pier.
Owner forced to descend
To buy his umbrella.
Children thinking everything
A festive choice.
The city’s window dressers
Drew Christmas, then dismantled it
And lost their minds in the debris.
Mothers in homemade caves,
Hands full of bright concentrates.
Fathers replaced the mowers’ long blades.
Grandfather’s snap-open universe
In gold, and a top hat
That collapsed for travel.
Grandmothers left to
Turn kitchen lights off and on
To signal: I am safe / Please send doctor.
Where It Was
City on the plateau,
In the hands of the rainy season.
Workers walked its sewers holding light bulbs
Protected by cages. Loudness said,
“It is raining.” Everything down there
I left the city,
Looking toward a hidden river
Stretched across emptiness
For no reason.
“Sonsa” is the word in Spanish.
I heard it applied to me.
I visited the shore, a fort
Green at the edges. The sky unmarked,
Thinking itself distant. “Nothing is straight
In the sea,” someone said.
I visited a cave which once was a Consumption
Hospital. A letter never sent
Said, “We are arrived at Mammoth. The doctor
Has a house in the town but visits each day
And listens to our coughs.”