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About this poet

Katy Lederer grew up in Concord, New Hampshire. She received a BA from the University of California at Berkeley in 1995 and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1998. She is the author of the poetry collections The Heaven-Sent Leaf (Crown Publishing, 2008) and Winter Sex (Wave Books, 2004), as well as a memoir, Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers (Broadway Books, 2003), which was a New York Times Book Review “Editor’s Choice.” Lederer, who spent twelve years working in finance, has served as an editor for The Poetry Project Newsletter and Fence Magazine. She has received fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell, and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and she lives in New York City.

Mass Effect

Pushed together, pulled apart, we were purported pluripotent.
We developed as an organ, a benign and beating heart.

We sought physicians for histology. Discovered spinal symmetry.
Within the sacred bowl of life, our innards spilled in red array.

I wondered what you'd have to say if in your mouth you grew a tongue.
I wondered what I'd have to say if in my head I grew a mouth.

Instead we moved into a house, connected by a modem.
A surgical removal could have cured us of our malady.

But seeking to remain benign, we discoursed through telepathy.
How long could we have lived like this?

With our then-rudimentary eyes we saw shapes coming toward us:
amorphous and black, shedding tears. We had nothing to say.

Copyright © 2012 by Katy Lederer. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2012 by Katy Lederer. Used with permission of the author.

Katy Lederer

Katy Lederer is the author of the poetry collections The Heaven-Sent Leaf (Crown Publishing, 2008) and Winter Sex (Wave Books, 2004).

by this poet


Focus for
us was a thing hard to
come by. We would have to make due with

we had: these
were pills and a pencil,
blue earplugs to block out the voices
inside of

our heads, which
would tell us time passed and
these thoughts that would shine like soft lights


That everything's inevitable. 
That fate is whatever has already happened. 
The brain, which is as elemental, as sane, as the rest of the processing universe is. 
In this world, I am the surest thing.
Scrunched-up arms, folded legs, lovely destitute eyes. 
Please insert your spare
After Duras
"We go back to our house. We are lovers. 
We cannot stop loving each other."

I come to confiscate your love. 
What will you do?

Small shrubs grow in the blackened yard.
Sun, which is yellow, shines in through the windows, now barred.

You were watching me eat.