Monday Jun 24

WronskyGail Gail Wronsky is the author, coauthor, or translator of twelve books of poetry and prose, among them Dying for Beauty (Copper Canyon Press), Poems for Infidels (Red Hen Press), and So Quick Bright Things (What Books Press). Her translation of Alicia Partnoy’s book Fuegos Florales (Flowering Fires) recently won the American Book Prize from Settlement House Press. Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous anthologies including Poets Against War; A Chorus for Peace; Wide Awake: the Poetry of Los Angeles and Beyond; The Black Body; and Coiled Serpent. Her poems and reviews have appeared in journals including Poetry; Boston Review; Antioch Review; Colorado Review; Denver Quarterly; Crazyhorse, Virginia Quarterly Review; Volt; and Pool. She is a member of the Glass Table Arts Collective, has an MFA from the University of Virginia and a PhD from the University of Utah, and teaches creative writing and women’s literature at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.


Let thought become your beautiful lover

For then thought will be as noiseless as a mellowing pear, or it will lope out like a
wind-wild unbridled horse, or pause with you on your balcony,

taking in the sea smell, not hearing the words of the poet saying love is an
ornate piano, love is a seismic pulse, love is never anything a poet says it is.

It will be as enchanting as a wandering orphic singer in her little boat surrounded by
attentive birds. Indeed, were I not now furling my sails and

hastening to turn my prow toward land, I might hold forth further on the topic.
And you might think me beautiful.

Drawn by a team of three-legged fish-tailed horses

The road to death is crooked, even for a god. Your
three-legged fish-tailed horses never want to pull in the

same direction so the chariot lurches and jerks forward
in a confused motion, driving the charioteer to curse, to

use the whip, sometimes to crash against crusty underwater
cliffs or plummet into sudden drop-offs in the sea floor.

How much more difficult for poor humans caught between
the names of things and the iridescences of perceptions—

one minute walking alone and in love on a mountain path,
the next waking up on a clinic’s cot face to face with

different pastures—out of this moment something suddenly
expressing itself in a poem, and out of that moment another

plummeting. Meanwhile herds of shapeless enormous seals
pasture in the sea above hidden flowerbeds. I live in a kind of

lurching and jerking amid shimmers, glimpses, and recognitions,
between the day and its passing. Last night I stood beneath

a coral tree whose black branches were full of snowy egrets
squawking and shifting before settling down for sleep. It was

a picture for a Roman tapestry! Almost an image for a poem!
And then I felt another plummeting. It had something to do

with beauty; something to do with the dogged willfulness of
specificity and its opposite, all the alienated noncommittal

wavering of the sea. The beautiful sea. What could be more

Wild beasts and fish, cattle and colored birds

I would not have lain in the grave of this body so long

were it not for the enticements of animal   life

were it not for tigers     (oh there aren’t any left

you say   just skins and masks and inconsolable

monks) were it not for     creatures   without

narcissism or fetishes.         Human desire is

avaricious.     Human desire     aspires on wings

says gather it     to symmetry     and form     and fear

but here we go again with spectator and voyeur.

Not wanting   to be either   I suppose   I would rather

cling       to a little long-haired     lamb with whom

curl by curl   I could enumerate the forests of the night   

burning     more or less unremittingly.