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Sample Poems by Loren Graham


Humanities Eumenides
 
Invitations engender paperless regrets
via daisies     each like a pale enormous
eye     via valentine with silly birds     and photo
 
you     in pine woods back of our house via seed
pearls in manila left taped to my door     via
chrysanthemums      thirteen sans card     the first
 
day I went out with     another     silent dragon heads
accusing     mums from my mom     I assured words
that made me     ill that forced me to recall
 
your love like     a bee’s for the hive     the polite
messages my machine is full of     offers
unstated full of silent     Furies     beckoning full
 
of the ominous quiet     in your voice


Imaginary Conversations
 
You say whatever it was you ever said
that left me flat, that vandalized or burned
me.  I say words I wish I had returned
but did not.
                   Then you recede, and I explain
in great detail, in words I never said,
how shame and anger are seldom long estranged,
how in a lyric from a country croon
I hear our diminution and am embarrassed,
enraged and appalled at the tidy vacuum,
the perfect lack that we made of marriage.
 
But always silence is your last reply,
silence presented as a negative quantity,
a nothing that can settle any score.
 
(You say the absence of your knocking at my door.)


The Ring Scar
 
It should have disappeared by now, this faint
line of pale skin where my ring used to ride,
but it persists.  It faded overnight
from my palm, but on the back of my hand,
part of me most familiar, it has remained
for months:  indented, obvious, a fine
shadow, a delicate burn never quite
healed.  Nothing will erase that little brand:
I’ve stretched it, flexed it, held it in the sun,
but it will not be exorcised.  It hangs
on like an old unwelcome ghost, a crank
spirit biding its time, making mortals wait
until the day when, for reasons unknown,
it leaves off haunting and suddenly is gone.


Translation
 
Suddenly present in an unknown place
on foreign     sheets your strangers’ arms
around me I     rose and dully dressed
 
in another woman’s     garments put on her leather
shoes molded long by such     alien feet her tank
tops that let my     bra strap show used her brushes
 
that pulled hair out in     clumps off-brand
toothpaste     mirrors that showed a face like mine
but never quite     true the chin     off somehow the eyes
 
just too far apart the hair     longish not the correct color
Who was this stranger whose     existence was the original
of my sudden and poor     translation whose lip
 
gloss and eye liner I     expropriated who had folded
her underwear neatly and placed it in the wrong drawer
who never returned whose     husband I allowed to
 
hold me he didn’t     know I wasn’t     his wife