Two Poems by Daphne Gottlieb

poem for matthue, 5/03

1. lo, though i walk through the valley of death, i shall fear no

2. you ask me to write you
a happy
poem, but it is as though
i am standing at the border
of two foreign countries
simultaneously; passportless,
searched, seized, deported
in full view of something i can't quite
get to.

i am the world's shyest bridegroom,
suddenly inept and stammering
alone in front of the wonder
of a body and i do not trust
myself with the trust
that has been given me.
even my hands are blushing,
wishing for pockets in my own
skin, somewhere to dig in,

well, you asked me for this,
so sex death and exile,
sick of the sound of my own
voice full of sick,
sex, death and exile.

3.  clap if you believe in tinkerbell.

4.  a while ago, a friend told me about an article in harper's or some other
for people who spend too much time on the toilet.  it was by a woman in
kosovo, or some other place americans name when their inability to feel
gets to them, when they are fed, fucked, sheltered, clothed and maybe even
loved but something is wrong:
the husband is fucking another woman. the kids are crying. dinner burned.

in the article, the woman from kosovo or rwanda or somewhere else
said yes, when the bombs are falling, things are dire, but the rest
of the time, the husband is having an affair, the children are angry
at each other and the dog ran away. how dare you
sanctify us.

5.  maybe if i keep going
it'll all work out.

6.  what's the last impossible thing
someone asked you to do?

7.  suddenly, matthue, this poem will become
a song of songs for you, right here.  you did not think
it impossible that happy or poem were
beyond my reach.

8.  susan's new "electra" bike is named lolita.
she rode it into the 500 club right now.  she's cherry red.
the bike, i mean.  i speak nabokov:  i call her lo in the morning.
susan nods.
she's showing me digital photos of the bike.
the bike is flirting with a fiat, coquettishly tipping her front tire
against a cooper mini.

9.  it's 7:15 at night and it's still sunny and warm
and susan and i are splitting
a beer. i have a fridge full of food at home and at the moment
i almost feel
(wait for it)
almost feel
(you can say it)
almost feel
(can't do it yet)

10.  still clapping for tinkerbell

11.  comely.


ernie, on the street, overhears lola, who has fallen off the wagon is walking home alone at 2:15 a.m.

god grant me the heredity the hysterectomy god grant me to

excess to annex to invent the things I cannot

exchange courage to claim or chain the things I

clam and the wizard to know the defense.

Daphne Gottlieb