Sunday Feb 05

Tomash Poetry Barbara Tomash is the author of four books of poetry, PRE- (Black Radish Books 2018), Arboreal (Apogee 2014), Flying in Water, which won the 2005 Winnow First Poetry Award, and The Secret of White (Spuyten Duyvil 2009). An earlier version of PRE- was a finalist for the Colorado Prize and the Rescue Press Black Box Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Web Conjunctions, New American Writing, Verse, VOLT, OmniVerse, Witness, and numerous other journals. She lives in Berkeley, California, and teaches in the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University.

from Her Scant State

black velveteen garden at a distance
radical advances in ancient expanses
having to give up all this false position
to be liberal after luncheon, a picture
modernized, weather-fretted walls
in blurred gleams—apart, distracted,
ostensible, mistaken—a bitterness to
garden these words   prelude   sequel

In a low tone. “I’ll leave alone.” You change color. In spite of evident husband I bring you absolve from observe, cease to from startled. Is a pleasure or a pain heavier. Literally. See the spread of your remark, “It’s better (than) (since) (bade) goodbye.” Heart wintering in an artificial garden. I think dying. Is dying. The quick effect of words.

war overdarkened       childhood ripening     
while the author of my faculties       flinched
like Caliban drifting right out to sea       I wish to I wish you I wish      
ingenuity of interpretation       radiance wrapped up in drowning      
a story about the girl       incoherent       desperado
if I must tell the truth


Of duplicity, faith, delusion. In the afternoon of her husband’s real fact. Livelier motions she hardly knew. Never dreamed vista of a multiplied life, dead wall at the end. And judge. And choose. And earthward. “Put the lights out.” The dusk lifted corners. Impenetrably. Her own mind—she was sure of that. As the disk of the moon when it was masked.

a few words
wanted to do more than look
crumbs of the feast      
how meager her senses       fortune-hunters 

The summer reality. Distinct. Egotistic. Precautions make me ashamed. What women are expected to be—my best friend, my last pleasure. A kind of intellectual gaiety, legs crossed. The whole American world resisted you. You’re so modern, so modern. We shall always be delighted to give evidence of that fact.

wound forecast
fallacy finer than a Greek bas-relief                   

had never been more blue        less    
beautiful edifice

I who am not innocent. Not concealed under a surface, not shut up, annexed, achieved, interpreted, but framed in the doorway of nationality, the empty aperture, detained in an immense winter evening—a rupture.