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  April 2008
volume 6 number 1
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  home   (archived)
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  Mike Dias
  Gene Justice
  Sarah Maclay
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Sarah Maclay April 2008



art by dee rimbaud

    Sarah Maclay received the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry for her first book, Whore, which was published by the University of Tampa Press in 2004. Her poems have appeared in periodicals such as APR, FIELD, Ploughshares, Pool, Lyric, Hotel Amerika, Solo, and ZYZZYVA, and are included in The Best American Erotic Poems: 1800 to the Present (Scribner, 2008). Her essays and reviews have been published in The Writers Chronicle and Poetry International, where she serves as book review editor. She received a Special Mention in Pushcart Prize XXXI and a fellowship from the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation, and is also the author of three limited edition chapbooks: Shadows of Light (Inevitable Press), Ice from the Belly (Far Star Fire), and Weeding the Duchess (Black Stone Press). A native of Montana, she earned degrees from Oberlin College and Vermont College, and has taught at USC and FIDM. She lives in Venice, California, where she periodically serves as a poet-in-residence at Beyond Baroque. She is currently a visiting assistant professor at Loyola Marymount University.



The Night Roses

And then I could feel their strange weight, wet as night as they fell
from her hands, even the stems flush with scent and dew—and
in the center of this large bouquet, too large to hold—even the
cabbage a too-large rose, even its leaves now petals—as every daily
thing is remembered and fondled as a rose—even the folded night,
even the silence of its singing.

Even its dark song.

copyright 2007 Sarah Maclay



The Windows Flicker with Whips?

black as patent leather. Street shine, headlights and reflection.
Inside, little hums. Shadow of the mirror’s edge. Glass reflecting
light. Half the time, there’s no way in. Yet there’s no sense of
waiting. Of something missing. Someone. It is as though that hole,
once closed, has healed again. Healed over. The mirror simply
bends the light and doubles it. And now I’m looking through
another window into 1950s Paris, 1960s Rome. I could simply
leave the room. And yet another opening is opening. As though
that opening no longer begs.

copyright 2007 Sarah Maclay



For You Who Are Not With Me Who Are With Me

Because you are such a cloth man, I must start with the cloth
report—in this case with our friend in gauzy white on black,
those famous black grapes dripping from her earlobes, dangling in
strands, as she assembles the seating, checking out the room,
while our thin and vibrant friend, in a green frock-that-could-
be-called-a-frock, jokes about her reading glasses as she reads to
us—all smoke and leaves and wood and sex and shining and the
Seine and dusk and our friend/her friend whose mother died and
father died and husband left and son is leaving for college and
who is sparkling now in the awkward embrace of a life she does
not know, in green, in jeans, more fully alive, and our friend all
reds and oranges and peach and freckle diaphanous-lit on her two
martinis and cackling, eyes jade olives, penetrating, vividly, the air,
and her friend/my friend with the pulled-back hair and the dozen
brothers or so and tonight her friend in specs and our friend whose
husband also left four years ago, her graying hair now shoulder-
length as though she’s been allowed to become a girl again as she
smiles with her new and bearded, twinkling friend and his grown
son, and our other friend who loves our (not here) other friend but
it was over a year ago or two and she’s pulled together in a chic-
er lace brigade (if not brocade) and her hair, all auburn-toned,
allows her to wear her body differently, somehow, with a kind
of now-found stateliness and her friend (who I’ve only recently
met) is champagne, all joy and frazz—and now, as I turn to the
back, our blond friend who I’d imagined sitting next to tonight
while gazing at you in a mini-skirt, no stockings—only instead
I’m wearing something I didn’t need to iron—a blousy film of
longish dress with flecks of fallish flowers, all brown and longer and black
and under it the stockings covered from bottom to top
with flowers, brown and orange, gold, that some have mistaken in
the past, in airports, for tattoos—but you see I can take them off
and wash them—and so (this is where we went tonight) our red-
haired friend is making me walk across the room while lifting my
dress and it’s only at the end of the evening that our blond-haired
friend moves closer, breaking into tears because of a migraine so I
manage to cadge a couple of Advil from our friend with the grapes
and after sausage and a beer our blond-haired friend is nearly
glamorous again—a word I shouldn’t use, you know, but will—
tossing back her head with the friendly guy in the leather jacket
and glasses who’s always smiling, and also with my tall and sylvan
friend (she slips two folded paper sonnets into my drawstring bag
but later, when I tease the black silk open there are only a couple
of pieces of antique lace) and her husband—while below, a crowd
of hundreds jams into the outdoor brick café, twirling scarves
and almost dancing, every age, to hear a young guitarist twanging
out her evening chords and beginning to sing and of course—to
go back to the room for a second—our friend who is playing the
saxophone (though it’s been nearly confiscated as a weapon and
someone says it was because of the case—it looked like a gun—but
no, our black grape friend says, no, it was the instrument itself that
set off rumors)—and his forehead, tonight, just beginning to bead
with sweat, his wrists embraced, encircled with, on one, a sleek
tres Western watch, on the other a necklace of brown and wooden
beads, from Africa, I think, but do not know, and tonight he is the
firmest of brown mountains blowing into the lacquered sax—its
brass keys set on top of a horn so silvery it’s almost black and the
sound that pours from it is gold and silver and black and black
gold and it hits my neck now, which is where you come in—as
my head begins to drop on its hinge and I close my eyes and my
hair, already frowsy, dangles like limp cloth and it’s all a river now,
of our accidents and multiple and singular desires and words and
leaves and smoke and dusk and the Seine, all shining, and then
the way your hand, right now, descent under water, would have
given itself to my neck and the way I would, descent, go under,
anywhere with, under flame, with you, even as the high brick
walls in back of the terrace, where I’d imagined leaving the crowd
with you and leaning into—even as these walls, this turf is guarded
by security, in white—and all the secluded benches are taken and
even the long, oval pond that is really a fountain reflects the night
like a slippery stretch of patent leather, like the most alluring
couch, so that I have to dip my hand in now, so that I have to
break the surface with my finger—ok, the merest trespass—and
actually—and let me slide that word around in my mouth and
taste it—let me fondle it, if I must live with it—the way it starts
with an opening and gets complex in the middle and leaves my
tongue with another kind of opening and even though this is not
the night we’d hoped for, it is all of this and actually this—this is
what we’ve made.

copyright 2007 Sarah Maclay