Nearest Star

our sun is not the most noteworthy star
only the nearest.
-- Audre Lorde

Ball of fire, cranky generator,
Leader of the dance we live by and for,
Imbiber of rain, beguiler of seed,
Our bare-skin seaside salutations read
Hubristic trust in screen oils. Each morning
Flashes breaking news! Yet it’s Earth that spins
Reeling us into nightly alternate
Universe navigating blind at the rate
Of 1000 miles per hour until returning
Crimson afterglow glosses the black urn
We call space.
                    Ashes of rocket debris
Orbit with asteroids--a galaxy
Of glory and shrapnel. What cosmic broom
Will ride the clouds to dust our living room?

Ex-Lover at the Cocktail Party

This one’s tall--curls her nostrils when he asks
faux naif -- “Have you two met?” Do not risk
priming clever tongues. Lips pressed to the chill
rim of a glass give nothing away. Fill
up on bubbling water, discreetly note
his bounce of adam’s apple between throat
and knot of tie silk dancing with golf tees.
Lasso a passing pyramid of cheese.
Rabbit-attack the artful garden tray.
Look away before the stem of your brain
spinning small talk snaps, forgets how a lie
like a sugar-free lozenge can imply
caloric worth. Come, grind the sour ball
of his name between your teeth--was it Paul?


Charlotte Mandel’s six books of poetry include Sight Lines (Midmarch Arts Press) and two poem-novellas of feminist biblical revision--The Life of Mary (foreword by Sandra M. Gilbert), and The Marriages of Jacob. Her poetry, short fiction and critical essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Nimrod, Fulcrum, Women’s Studies, Literature/ Film Quarterly, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, among many others. She edited Saturday’s Women, the Eileen W. Barnes Award Anthology, co-edited by Maxine Silverman and Rachel Hadas. As an independent scholar, she has published a series of articles on the role of cinema in the life and work of poet H. D. (Hilda Doolittle). She has also published scholarly essays on May Sarton. She teaches “Translating Silences,” a poetry writing course with additional study of a “Poet of the Month” at Barnard College Center for Research on Women.


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Judith Taylor: No one seems to disagree with me when I say there's something compelling about these images. Maybe it's because we're so inundated by the media with narrative that is manipulated and inflated that these honest little private struggles to say something touch us at the core. The eye with which we see them now is not the eye of the young writer, and that distance is interesting, surprising. Maybe the connection between the adolescent girl and the adult woman, or the diary page and the studio wall, is closer than I think.
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