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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.

Countess Lethargy

Dogs slink around her bed in hunger.
Lest you make sacred her image
on a brick, on your drive or thumb, 
she needs to be turned twice a day
plant-ish, in her deshabille. 

Lethargy has its roots in lethal.
This is the truth you must share
or die, the waves over your head,
the waving you're not doing.
Pride vacuums away the scraps

yet nobody empties the bag.
Maybe she hurts. Maybe.
The dogs devour her at dusk.
You have it in a book, read once, 
now on the computer shelf. 

Clever is what those dogs become, 
punished by crowds anxious to see
the Countess' soul fly from their mouths.
She wears gold and shines: sunlight.
You are one of those dogs.

Copyright © 2010 by Terese Svoboda. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2010 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
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
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