New American Poets

Rachel Zucker

Despite Reports Curious George Not A Monkey, Has No Tail

"What things know no one knows"
—Lyn Hejinian

how the s changes passersby
inside like a fetus makes mother what was
on the local you pass with your express
                               a human in neon biosuit
that corner of your eye reserved for
tailed afflictions, pale-skinned angels—shudders, flinches

"fever 102° no daycare"
"vomit, day three, no daycare"

meanwhile our thick-waisted planet like a roast-pig basking

puffins and penguins are birds that swim
the seal a torpedo upside down

husband, various complaints, wants sex also

and they are scanning my motherhood

I want to say wait on the front steps but haven't any
want to say get out so I can stare at this wall as I was born to do

but when I say so the machine colors the image a solid boysenberry
and an ovoid region above my pelvis blinks

the technician's completed level of education
makes his diagnosis no more true than the shapes in a balloon are?

lake above canal
grape on a skirtless broom
a letter we'll call "o-on-i"
penelope over odysseus
cloud and spear

"Despite Reports Curious George Not A Monkey, Has No Tail" by Rachel Zucker. All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author

Two Synonyms for Body: Corpse and Form

"So strange an accident has happened to us, that I cannot forbear recording it"
—Mary Shelley

I think too much and know too little, believe my witness though, of course, see slant. When imagination overtakes me (remember the wave Coleridge tried to sell us, the ocean that stood in for passion?), my body can't fail to notice and gasp for the 21% oxygen atmosphere above sea-level. In this giving-notice the almost-corpse pinches fiercely at the mind's eye, the eye's horizon, and reminds me that for better or worse we measure quarks and trees and galaxies in relation to human figures.

I make a shape and shadow. And with these made two boys and a cool space for them to sleep. When no one is watching I carve out pieces of the world, with my sharp body lie down on life and make a me-shaped map, human continent. I press what once looked real, a Vermeer-like landscape, through my tiniest pores, into some salty unmade mound of golem. And with everything I have seen and felt and wondered attempt to render likeness. Some changeling covered in half-visible fingerprints—if I am lucky it will cry so pleadingly your milk will let down though you know I made it.

One suspect among a herd of the anthropocentric criers, I confess: with slight evidence or without proof at all I have imagined and imagine I am guilty of daily suspicions. I have looked about with awe and suspected the real world to be so frightening and beautiful that I could not help but make these forms and corpses.

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