On Holding the Carcass of a Frog

by Arlene Ang

for Liz

 

It is your sixth birthday again.
Biscuits litter the grass with unwantedness.
The moon is a ball of yarn that holds the promise
of a sweater or something similarly warm
and inanimate. You hear your dog
panting through the carcass in his mouth.
The odor is homeless, a kind of crucifix
around the neck of someone
rotting. You pry open his jaws, like a gift box.
In your hands, the frog’s body is useless.
Does a taste for the dead
give the dead a purpose for being?
With the objects of desire removed, the desire
remains: If your left knee shines,
it is from saliva. Because your dog
is your first love, you can’t vanish him at will
or let him eat what he catches.
Instead you grab the frog by its left leg
and raise it above your head, away
from his jaws, like a candle that has gone
out but still smells of burning.

In All Fairness

by Arlene Ang

It is entirely seemly for a young man killed in battle to lie mangled by the bronze spear. In his death all things appear fair.

Homer, Iliad

The heart beats four times
before accepting silence—soft knocks
on the ground that go unanswered.

His eyes howl at the sky,
complete circles unto themselves.

Around him, flies are dancing
so close to each other
that their bodies ripple a rain song.

The spear entered his chest
and went out the back, like a lover.

His hand is wrapped around
the shaft. It used to hold the shield. It had
five fingers. It made a living.

The other arm keeps its distance,
preferring to lie beside another corpse.

On one heel, the blood
glares the heat back at the sun.
His feet are done with walking.

 

No psychiatric care, please.

by Arlene Ang & Valerie Fox

 

And step back
from the microphone.
Give your hands over to rinsing
sadness out of this waning bar of soap.

Some will stay
(dead)
and their hands will twist and ring
an imitation of playing on
horns, metal plates, strings.

Others are dead, too.
Named or not.
Before and after speeches.
Before and after dinner their last thought seared
by the bite of a wild animal (cobra, komodo, dog)
or a wound of war.
Or just a moment of lapsed expectation.

Entirely absent (don’t marry him/her).
Entirely absent (things are sure to get better here).

 

 

***

 

Arlene Ang’s poetry collections include Secret Love Poems (Rubicon Press, 2007), Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon (Texture Press, 2008), co-written with Valerie Fox, and Seeing Birds in Church Is a Kind of Adieu (Cinnamon Press, 2010). Her poems have appeared in Ambit, Caketrain, Diagram, Poetry Ireland, Poet Lore, Rattle, Salt Hill as well as the Best of the Web anthologies 2008 and 2009 (Dzanc Books). She lives in Spinea, Italy where she designs books for Texture Press and serves as staff editor for The Pedestal Magazine. Website: www.leafscape.org.

 

 

Valerie Fox’s previous books of poems include The Rorschach Factory (Straw Gate Books, 2006) and Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon (a compilation with Arlene Ang, Texture Press, 2008). She is an editor for Press 1, a journal of fiction, poetry, opinion, and photography. She teaches at Drexel University, in Philadelphia, and lives with her family in New Jersey.

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