POEMS

- by Forrest Gander

EVAPORATION - I (for Valerie Mejer)

It’s not an insult to refuse to drain the glass, she tells me
And a fly crawls from the bowl of salsa picante.

Would you choose to bury the organs with the child?
And he retreats to his room and closes the door.

Here, birds in the zócalo whiz and tweet like children’s toys
And there, a charred corpse hanging from the bridge.

From the seat behind, the boy pokes his sister’s head with a plastic fork
And getting no response, tests it on his own head.

Would you kindly turn the damn wipers off, the attendant asks
And the odor of manure and wet hay hits us.

A kind of mystery gloms to those who have suffered deeply
And thank you Mr. and Mrs. Radiance.

It sounded like the chimmuck of a rock dropped into a stream
And the piston-driven breathing of sex.

The couple at the bus station—when had we kissed like that?
And Nice evening—Yes it is—A bit skunky—That’s for sure.

Terrorist and victim circling the last chair as the music stops
And the valves of their mouths snapping open and shut.

When I rise out of myself into occasion, I said
And when do you rise out of yourself into occasion, she asked.

Late enough to count maple loopers and geometrids at the window
And the boy will be coming up the porch steps when he comes.

The long row of treadmills choiring
And above them, televisions replay the disaster.


EVAPORATION - III (for Anya Utler)

Look how cold it looks on the yellow linoleum, she said.

Like watching a thumb war, he mumbled.

Spent the whole damn morning with the dishwasher man, she alerted him.

Standing in line watching the nape of the man in front of me, he remembered.

Perseid meteors from the radiant in the predawn, she read.

Is it really called Sutra of Angular Severity, he wondered.

Crossed out and then stetted, she noted.

High-speed dust fluorescing as it collides with solar wind, he read.

Now it’s flu season, she wondered, should we give the boy an eye-wash?

They call it painting your throat, he noted, dipping the gauze in iodine.

In their component fatigue, the days… she mumbled.

And then you were talking in a French patois and wanting to go out, he said.

To be defiled is to be recognizable to yourself, she thought.

Forrest Gander

Born in the Mojave Desert in Barstow, California, Forrest Gander grew up in Virginia and spent significant periods in San Francisco, Dolores Hidalgo (Mexico), and Eureka Springs, Arkansas before moving to Rhode Island. He holds degrees in both English literature and geology. The author of numerous books of poetry, including Eye Against Eye, Torn Awake, and Science & Steepleflower, all from New Directions, Gander also writes novels (As a Friend), essays (A Faithful Existence) and translates. His most recent translations are Firefly Under the Tongue: Selected Poems of Coral Bracho, No Shelter: Selected Poems of Pura Lopez-Colome, and, with Kent Johnson, two books by the Bolivian wunderkind Jaime Saenz: The Nightand Immanent Visitor: Selected Poems of Jaime Saenz. Gander's poems appear in many literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, and have been translated into half a dozen languages. Several books (see Work) in translation are available in Mexico (Zumba el Transcurrir: Poemas Escojidos and Arrancado del Sueno), Chile (Traduciendo a Saenz y Otros Poemas), and the Netherlands (Twelve X 12:00). He is a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow and has recieved fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim, Whiting, and Howard Foundations. With poet C.D. Wright, Gander lives in Rhode Island. As Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Brown University, he teaches courses such as Poetry/World/Mind, EcoPoetics, Latin American Poetry Live, and Translation Theory & Practice.