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Amy Gerstler

Three Poems by Amy Gerstler

Amy Gerstler and friend
My Ego

is a dented suit of armor, a designer gown
with grimy lining. She's the cause of false beliefs.
She fucks up my ability to love. She's prickly
and tender as an artichoke heart. She proposes
to me so frequently I can't hear other people
speak. She's a self-annointed guide who materializes
at my side with a flourish of trumpets and a bullhorn.
She's a forged love letter, a jailer impersonating a
friend. She's a series of flashbacks in which I'm
both victim and hero. I try to bribe her into exile,
but she calls herself my servant and falls weeping
at my feet. I'm forever banishing her, this mistress
of disguises, even as she clamors back into my lap,
begging my pardon and getting all kissy with me,
grabbing my hand and jamming it down her blouse.


Horizontal Women

Women free-falling, fainted, or overcome, arms raised
or flung. Women mostly young and unsung. Women
diving for pearls. A girl tossing her curls, or out cold
mid-clinch. One muddy gal asleep in a ditch. Women
leaping or snoring. Prone women imploring. A babe
brainy as any female could get. A woman who doesn't
know she's pregnant yet, lying on dry grass awaiting
hard rain. Women in pain. A twist with braceleted
wrists. A chick who insists she can't stand up till
you say yes. A lady you'd never guess would get
herself murdered. A woman unheard who just
lies there and cries. A femme who mightily sighs.  
Woman as some kind of horizon, another woman's hand
on the back of her head. Or, instead, each she is the line
at the farthest place you can see, if you squint your eyes,
where the sky seems to descend to touch land or sea.


Lying down on the rug with someone and getting dust
bunnies in your hair. The eloquence of long pauses.
Passing notes rather than speaking. A basement fogged
with pot smoke. Trying to read another body via its breathing.
The idea that if you kiss someone you can taste what they
just ate. Refusing to eat what your mother cooks anymore,
which hurts her feelings. But you can't stand dead sautéed
animal inside your mouth now, so you have to spit it out.
The myth that innocence is protective. The idea of not
being able to stop. Reading secret magazines a cousin stuffed
in the bottom of his sleeping bag. The idea that someone
curious about your body isn't interested in the private theatre
of your mind. Theories that there might be a kind of
violence about it. How mother insists that without true love
it's just worthless humping, and the idea that for the life
you aspire to, she's probably wrong. What your body has
promised for so long. The idea of your disastrous premiere.
The idea of someone laughing at you after. The idea of
hoofprints, stampede damage, stuff crushed underfoot.
The idea of keeping all this hidden as you slowly lotus open.

From Index of Women by Amy Gerstler (Penguin)
See, too,

June 14, 2022

November 19, 2021

November 17, 2021

November 15, 2021

July 09, 2021

April 13, 2021

February 21, 2021

February 04, 2021

January 10, 2020

May 24, 2015

May 17, 2015

May 10, 2015

May 02, 2015

April 25, 2015

April 18, 2015

April 12, 2015

April 04, 2015

May 24, 2014

May 14, 2014

April 30, 2014

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That Ship Has Sailed
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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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