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Sample Poems by Ben Gantcher



Afternoon of a Fawn


Wrapped in the parrot-
red hammock in
deciduous sunshine
sounding out the clouds
and shimmies of the red oak
the heart-sharp leaves
a restless audience
for my daughter's lawn
performance a new song
with curtseys about
a death and politely
wishing she come alive
soon from the stage
reading me saying gold-
green princes applauding
and pod of celebrant
clouds and fishing
past all of it for
the vernacular and her
writing us in her book
I'm reading about Herculaneum
sooty beams of a nether-
sun fanning an airless
library but caw
I cawn't be
solemn This hammock
this sky My girl's book
will be like De rerum
natura
one a dem ur-
langwiches a rumor
plucked from the ur-
blivion of a bar-
barian bookcase and be
alive again This
morning a nearly parrot
doe pours out of the goldenrod
stranding her fawn
a bright shell


Afternoon of the Ducks


Slack in that red hammock
me the bloom of your sway in the world
when a V of ducks with red eyes flaps by
pats of late sunshine on their heads
Very neat ducks that write a casual hand
revising the grand scribbled bird the little birds
scrabbling to mark the freezer-white figure of salvation
with the letter of love as concentration of
ducks hey grebes "south?" "again?"
"south" "i love the south" "why don't you
marry it?" without stopping for me
in the red hammock
Frantic machinery of the imperative
bursting into room on room
like a princess leading her paramour a merry chase
and dismantling the Versailles of flight on the long road to Pensacola
the V and racket of the grebes leaving me
a long time pink in the flesh of the day
the feathers of leaves and leaving grebes elongating such languorous thighs



Self-Portrait of the Ambassador


Of all the wars for your attention that pollinate
the lungs, growing bodhisattva swat teams
so that, like a plant, you turn to greet
some new...something,

it is the yellow behind the swallows,
sharp and harried, human as bird,
shaving and smoking and drinking, but on the trapeze!
immune to their own rapture,

the tardy messenger who finds the city
finally and falls against the domes
with a cry that you wish she would hear,
limber empress, rolling in the hay,

it's that yellow that chimes
with the fig tree in the weeds,
a pair of dolls all petticoats and savage tats,
and you reading toy tea leaves

that foresee a breezy summer
but cross-referencing the fenced-in Gowanus,
that obese peccadillo depository
goofy with freshets of seraglio fume



Self-Portrait with Exquisite Fidelity

I want the girl with the crooked face
who looks at you from inside the mirror,
you see yourself at peace and knowing you
so pleases her she beams affection. I want
that girl to walk with me on State Street

and climb the conversation, but don't look down
at the outlandish towers where timid forms
are putting on their fetching clothes

and the ten thousand things are the words
and draw the lace shadows like veils
and white caps that surf the blue mouth of the East
River and scows and animal flowers that flash
inside this mirror of all senses with red lips

I would talk and talk and make a mask of sparks
I would rise off any cushion and hand her into a boat
and watch a long time as she was rowed away