Sunday Jul 14

BuckPaulaClossoncreditRachel Clarke Paula Closson Buck spent six months on a Fulbright in Cyprus working on a collaborative project called Dead Zone Vertigo with two Cypriot visual artists. She is the author of two books of poems and, most recently, a novel called Summer on the Cold War Planet. Her poems and stories have appeared in Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, Laurel Review, Ploughshares, and Southern Review. A former editor of West Branch, she directs the creative writing program at Bucknell University. Follow these links to purchase Summer on the Cold War Planet and Litanies Near Water.

The Negotiation

I’ll take the olive and you keep the lemon.
You have the sea; I’ll take the old city.
When we both need bread, we won’t ask God,
who long ago abandoned his chair on this beach.

You thought no one lived in the apartments
over the shell-shocked bakery,
but there must be one old refugee

to the highest rooms, who each night lobs
into the sky, like a giant wheel of bread,
the moon of this desecrated planet.

If you’ve any respect for what we
once were, leave the geraniums.
They don’t need either of us.
And I guess I’ll take this stray dog here,

since you took bathing in January
in the little bay I loved so well
with the swamped wooden boat.
Though it hardly, now, seems fair.

Why have I given up nearly everything
and you almost nothing at all?

I’ll shoot if you try to take the wind.
I want to die under the carob tree.
Leave me that and I will pray for you,

though God has gone from his hiding place
in the highest limbs, and the rats each day
are killing off more of the foliage.

Men in Rooms

Men in rooms are talking
again. Men in suits in closed rooms,
their memories tailored,
their egos historic.

In what country is someone hanging
hand-washed hopes on the line
to dry—and is it before
or just after winter rain?

There are armies behind those men
in rooms. And the boom
and bust of corporations and nations.
There are guns and missiles

and maps that make it all true.
Though not so much for the women
on balconies, checking the sky for rain

or the faraway girl falling
from the window of a sex club,
her passport gone, her republic invisible.

Nostalgia with Boy and Pink Flamingo
for G. L.

Toward the extravagance of feathers the boy
is running, across the living room to that wild sweet
            encounter, mouth open in wonder

and time a ballet, costumed in pink, touched
with black at the wings, flying.
Birdward into the future, he runs

into the shattering, 1973, 1974, he sees sky—
Famagusta blue—sees bird, balcony, blood. His own.
The glass door stutters its surprise when he

breaks through. Into the fleeing. Boy and bird.
Time, a bullet. Time, the violence that happens every moment
we can’t return. As when barbed wire

becomes the door, and the city is forbidden,
the bird no-love-lost, and we don’t see where we’re headed
or what will break us. He has the scars

to prove it. Please. Tell me a story. The one
about the salt marsh by the sea. How lovely the bird,
how happy the boy running to meet it.

Photo Credit: Rachel Clarke