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About this poet

Terese Svoboda is a poet, fiction writer, and memoirist. Her poetry collections include When the Next Big War Blows Down the Valley: Selected and New Poems (Anhinga Press, 2015), All Aberration (University of Georgia Press, 2009), and Mere Mortals (University of Georgia Press, 2009). She is the recipient of the Cecil Hemley Award, the Emily Dickinson Prize, and the Iowa Poetry Prize, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She lives in New York City.

The Blank of America

Who loots the dew or enjoins
a shadow to guard a tree?

The bird in the pie can't pretend
to arms, its claws rock

the coin in the crust.
The train's single eye

examines the tree that the pie
holds the fruit of,

its engine rasps past the bird
as if smoke lent its shadow.

And the dew? Surely
it's a dark gulp under a tall hat

the bird wings over.
Not noise, not the founding father's

nose. Repeat after me:
I solemnly swear:

I could swear otherwise,
my lips flying too. 

Copyright © 2012 by Terese Svoboda. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2012 by Terese Svoboda. Used with permission of the author.

Terese Svoboda

Terese Svoboda is a poet, fiction writer, and memoirist. Her poetry collections include When the Next Big War Blows Down the Valley: Selected and New Poems (Anhinga Press, 2015), All Aberration (University of Georgia Press, 2009), and Mere Mortals (University of Georgia Press, 2009).

by this poet

poem
A De Chirico head aslant on a coverlet,
body mostly flown, the dazed prayers dumb.

The ritual cigarette, the ritual drink:
incense, holy water. No ambivalence, 

the woman inside fled, the whispers
I make of tenderness—hers—she sleeps through.

She's in that corridor, tunnel, the light is left on—
shut if
poem
Walking backward from the sea,
scales shedding, you seek the cave. 

This is why the French door admits
only ocean. You stare into the louver

and forget how to get out. Lull
is the word, or loll. The sea returns,

completing your pulse, the waves live,
each breath of yours worship.
poem
A red-faced lion raises its maw.
I could be in the supermarket, saran wrap thrown back

but there's Hope Wanted Alive scrawled along
all the mud-slick side streets

where kids roll bottle tops, kids hawk one seed—
in Nairobi the slum blues where I stop, gallery-wise.

Forty children in clean costumes of