about the author

Robert Clinton’s poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Prairie Schooner, Hanging Loose, Ploughshares, and other periodicals. A book of his poems, Taking Eden, was published by Sarabande Books.

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Two Poems 

Robert Clinton

On Certain Beautiful Women

That I am them: not like them:
       that I am them

that I blink their eyes
       and dream their dreams
and pray their prayers
       that when they cry my eyes go blind
and when they dress up to go out
             my ears are three times pierced

That I am them:
that when we go riding I too am mounted
       that I ascend beneath our yellow-red balloon
and when we read a book, certain books,
             I burn the letters
                          as our eyes pass over

That I am them:
that I am alive to the creatures beyond the fence
       just as they are
and taste with the same tongue
listen to music holding the same breath
       bite with the same teeth the peach, the apple
             That I am them:
                    that I learn their lines from their lips and recite
             their speeches from their hearts and lungs

That I am them:
       that I join their government of law-less: feel
             the perfect pressure of their unbearable age
and whisper in my own ear now be courteous, rise like an ibis
       and before dawn in a high house, say, where the green
water piles against the garden granite
       that I unhook our jointed frames again
     and I am them no more

New Master

He says, nothing in the world exists
with perfect confidence—

showing me the trees, leaves chattering,
roots tightly wrapped as if around a skull,
Monadnocks broken into flakes as big as Volvos
sinking into fields of nervous grass;

and nothing in the world exists, he says,
which hasn’t in its eyesight most—itself—

showing me the tiny mortal waves,
each others’ mirrors, hushing me
while loon waits for the echo of the loon,
showing me in every house the double antique gods
still coupling, still bearing one another;

yet everything which we are not, he says,
holds us in a cup of apprehension and regard—

showing how I can’t ease through the world
outside its vigilance, or take a beast unnoticed
from the living shelves, showing how the eyeballs
everywhere in liquid focus fastened watch me
trample all the quaking vintages,
from green born birth to red clay death.

So he’s pulled us living from our kind, as before,
and so we have the weary education of his absence
to look forward to, again.

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