Poems: Jane Rosenberg LaForge

Bird and thorn.


To the ivy rats we fed
slop and candor, which
could not be repeated
at the nearby tennis club where
we were not inclined toward
membership. The dress code was all
white for ladies, and our mother
wore dungarees and Keds.
She was a sister rather than a wife
to a duly employed physician,
so they looked at us as though we were an alibi,
a plot twist, or Howard Hughes’ last will
and testament. They thought we were
for the birds, the way our grandmother would have
said it, between her erratic heartbeats;
amid the hesitations hummingbirds could not spare
in their winged figure-eights
as they spent and replenished
their vitality at the heads of bottle brush plants
grown beyond their shrub limits.
There was one bird, runty
and potentially blemished
that ate from our hands.
We had been taught never to touch
a bird but this one had a stiff yellow
prickle embedded in its breast, and
perhaps we should have removed this
badge, this business end of the deciduous.
But our father said we had to go
to synagogue the next morning.
When we finally got back that afternoon
the bird was gone,
on to the next charity case.


After The Moth Radio Hour with Amy Biancolli
The wedding ring
of my first husband
was warped, as was
his body, how he exacted
it into its martyred condition,
with a pelvis of titanium,
ribs of rubber although
this is not possible.
It is not physically tenable
for a man to live that way.
No matter, since he was a liar,
he lied about his body and
the things he had done with it,
but he did not lie about being
cranked open from sternum
to belly button. He only lied about the parts
put in to replace what had been
bankrupted; and not about how the procedure
gifted his skin with an arrow
from his heart to his stomach:
an inert and demonstrative afterglow
like backfire
park rangers light to spare
the rest of the forest.
If the wind does not shift,
the backfires work, and if
the wind is arbitrary, the damage
is capricious. The ring was not
affected by such events
although it could not withstand
the impact when thrown
against a wall during
an argument between
the unappreciative wife
and her legend of a husband.
Jane Rosenberg LaForge’s next full-length collection of poems will be Daphne and Her Discontents from Ravenna Press in late 2016 or 2017. She is the author of An Unsuitable Princess: A True Fantasy/A Fantastical Memoir (Jaded Ibis Press, 2014) and four volumes of poetry. The 2012 chapbook The Navigation of Loss was one of three chapbooks chosen for publication by Red Ochre Lit in its annual contest. More information is available at jane-rosenberg-laforge.com.

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