Issue 19: Ann Lauterbach


What's the dollar, love? We bees

dissembling under the stars, the stores, and

herein birth's mighty smile, simplest of apertures.

Into which: a spate of verbs, or swallowing,

the wing and throat,

the bird and a damp tunnel of shift,

appetite and simple forgetting

as you notice the very moment when

what might have occurred went blank.

Some Latin phrase here would be useful.

Some sign of tears wet enough to wipe

up after you, specific and not, you and not,

stayed by our restless sorrow, our muted flight.


I might have done a better job of acknowledging

the song or at least its lyrics, so difficult now, but

then, because I could sing along and the melody

sweet, everyone agreed, in unison, and there wasn’t a

tax bill in sight. Where were you? The children ask.

Under the canopy, I said, lying,

under the tent. Under the weather of better days

when I practiced as a matter of course and was not

accosted by dreams of the Monarch. This is my

reverent imitation, which is how I once learned

to play the instrument of choice, holding the bow.

Unbelief, Seeing


Yellow fortifies the drone’s

               flared assertions, as of wind.

Redeemed from an old file,

             misnomers flee to attic dust.  

Habitus of software: unroofed palace,

               leaked oil, etymology

French and distributed across

               the site’s icon and partial

 song. Hemlock shade. Open mouth

              stuck in the modem’s blinking pulse.

An adventure among  

              particulars, none of them recalled,

as if sorrow could take one abroad,

              away from the recluse harbor.


Forfeiture at the gates: the merry

widow, the wise fool. O dearest

clone, put on your hat and shoes,

make your slow way across the rug.

What remains?  Excess,

trace. The soldiers have left

the field. The students are

in the building. Fires are set.

Our Lady of Masks is about to visit,

white gloves drawn over dark nails.

Our Lady of Dread is casting her vote,

hair a pale shimmer

in spring rain.  Humming, she

counts her pennies and the dead.


The crows are indifferent

but urgent.

The heron lopes

across a blowsy sky,

west to east,

seemingly enchanted

with itself.

An aristocratic bird, in

Plato’s terms: noble

and graceful.

A boat is wheeled

down to the river.

The stones are

indifferent. Also the grass.

The bathers became paint.

The paint points

forward to a boy

wearing a black shirt with letters.

The letters are indifferent.

A girl reads the words on the shirt. 



Here in meandered appetite,

our trial by fire becoming


Angel dust. Sense

floats off without comparison

to the Near and the Near’s

far example. Then

Nonsense hitches up her skirt, beckons

the armed boys to follow, singing, she

sings the whole way down the tracks

into the far dry field where hands

of a clock lie pointing. We might have

been lurking or otherwise waiting

but we had forgotten

for what. Then

hungers set loose, without a bare

object or thing. As if a statue with a

hole at its center, headless, and

beautiful because we are awed by ruin.


Materialist closet awakens its trove.

An encyclopedia in the ditch

and a child’s fervid hand, dallying

under the auspices of dream.

Time again for Mistress Nonsense

to resume her spell

calling forth the witch’s hat,

the three-cornered Kingdom of Did.

Did not. Did.  Ocean in an

envelope of watery air,

child sitting on the beach with a pail.

Descriptive agency

muted against 

the arrested cycle. How to

add on, how

turn to that ship

lost in yesterday’s fog?

He buries his arms in sand.

He watches the clouds.

Wind’s disobedient push fuels the way.  


Hooligan atmosphere of the upswept word,

the traveling Once, partially redeemed

as coupon promise. Go farther

whispers the bad girl from under the tarp.

Go as far as the other side of the moon

where all the bearers gather to test her gaze.

Cave or tomb, a game of

hounds and jackals. You go first.  

Picturing the scald of the darkest star.

Picturing the oceanic rule.

Picturing an arrow lodged in an hour

and so tethered to night’s

spinning wreath, despite

assemblies of image

high overhead, 

folds of winged fire

in the implicate order.


The insufficient cluster

forms its sign.  The

instruction, written, 

lost among amulets and jewels

of what was once the horizon’s tool,


                       a prelude, its thought

                             musical and blind.  We might have

                                           resided there, listening 

                                                   to the thrum and waiting

                                   to catch a glimpse of crimson

           on stone, a wound or prayer

where also were found signs of ancestral deeds.

Recursive, in wave patterns, rings of hair and bone.



Signal, Motif


They return to trade

places they come back to play

among wet stones under

the fence along the path, to

fly out from sockets of air.

Not to imagine changes ---

static to movement, gray to

rusted metallic -- cropped

onto the brightly zoned

animate debris. To look,

to be scalded by a form

on the clock’s deadpan face.

Just below artifice  

trillions again arguing for, or

molesting, the body’s revision.


O browned alley of restless


              along the very edge of sight

           there is nothing

to capture

      the halted yellow stick

                bow tied to tree

    stooped naked trunk


        additions that amount to


           the way a vessel slides

yet unclosed  if you happen to see

          needles filtered

disclosed then

as if closer than light

               disclosed as motion

       whose scant repeat

                        over and under

                                  knots the frame.        

Ann Lauterbach's tenth collection of poems, SPELL, is forthcoming from Penguin in Fall 2018. She is co-cahir of Writing in the MFA at Bard College, where she is also Schwab Professor of Languages and Literature. A native of New York City, she lives in Germantown, New York.