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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 4, 2016.
About this Poem 

“‘Cut Lilies’ came during a nadir of loneliness in the early spring. Though I’m not religious, each year I find I need Easter more and more. Blake’s ‘Holy Thursday’ was heavy in my mind as I tried, through something like the pathetic fallacy, to trace the contours of the guilt behind my self-pity and my need.”
—Noah Warren

Cut Lilies

More than a hundred dollars of them.

It was pure folly. I had to find more glass things to stuff them          
       in.

Now a white and purple cloud is breathing in each corner

of the room I love. Now a mass of flowers spills down my                  
      dining table—

each fresh-faced, extending its delicately veined leaves

into the crush. Didn’t I watch

children shuffle strictly in line, cradle

candles that dribbled hot white on their fingers,

chanting Latin—just to fashion Sevilla’s Easter? Wasn’t I sad?          
      Didn’t I use to

go mucking through streambeds with the skunk cabbage raising

bursting violet spears?  —Look, the afternoon dies

as night begins in the heart of the lilies and smokes up

their fluted throats until it fills the room

and my lights have to be not switched on.

And in close darkness the aroma grows so sweet,

so strong, that it could slice me open. It does.

I know I’m not the only one whose life is a conditional clause

hanging from something to do with spring and one tall room          
      and the tremble of my phone.

I’m not the only one that love makes feel like a dozen

flapping bedsheets being ripped to prayer flags by the wind.

When I stand in full sun I feel I have been falling headfirst for          
      decades.

God, I am so transparent.

So light. 

Copyright © 2016 Noah Warren. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 Noah Warren. Used with permission of the author.

Noah Warren

Noah Warren

Noah Warren is the author of The Destroyer in the Glass (Yale University Press, 2016). 

by this poet

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The lake dry; it seethes.
Rust creeps through
brittle reeds, seeps into
the rustling seed-heads—
one stalk bows
beneath the weight
of the blackbird’s feet.

From the path edge
the fat lizard barks,
a silent croak.
He pivots, sprints over sticks,
plunges into

2
poem
           threw the pot of aloe from the balcony.
Bone yellow with a crackle glaze:
I was sitting close, I saw it teeter
on the railing,
the iron swaying— 
 
There are so many plants.
 
On slender, ringed necks
the old
poem

With the mower passing over
the lawn this August morning

shirtless, lightheaded

it is such easy going, you just
push it along and the fresh swathe
follows after, good machine,

and what Mother called the smell of order
wafts up from the headless
plants