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About this poet

Dora Malech is the author of Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011) and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009). She is the recipient of a Writer’s Fellowship at the Civitella Ranieri Center, a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, and an Amy Clampitt Residency Award. She lives in Baltimore, where she is an assistant professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

Party Games

                        Might night right sight?
                                                —Andrew Joron

The first thing she did after we blindfolded her
and turned her in circles by her shoulders

was lunge
for where she thought her target hung

and hit tree trunk instead, with one strike
against it split the stick

in half to jagged dagger
in her

fists. The donkey gently swayed
within reach, barely grazed

and staring straight ahead with the conviction
inherent to its kind at the horizon

that a gaze

paper mane fluttering in the breeze of a near miss,
belly ballasted with melting chocolate kisses,

drawn grin belying its
thingness, rictus

of ritual and craft. She's grinning
too, and laughing, regaining

her balance,
planting her feet in a samurai stance.

She brandishes her splinter.
There's no harm in letting her

take another turn
without turning

her around again.
We think we know how this ends,

how good it feels to play at this,
violence and darkness,

the beast
that harbors something sweet.

Originally printed in The Hopkins Review. Copyright © 2015 by Dora Malech. Used with the permission of the author.

Originally printed in The Hopkins Review. Copyright © 2015 by Dora Malech. Used with the permission of the author.

Dora Malech

Dora Malech

Dora Malech is the author of Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2010) and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009).

by this poet

                  I snap the twig to try to trap
the springing and I relearn the same lesson.
You cannot make a keepsake of this season. 
Your heart's not the source of that sort of sap,
lacks what it takes to fuel, rejects the graft,
though for a moment it's your guilty fist 
that's flowering. You're no good

In my favorite version, the man recites the alphabet
over and over, and when asked, he says he is praying.
He admits he lacks the words, but says perhaps if he provides
enough letters, God can piece his purpose back together.

The word is kavanah, translates to concentration or


Opening shot: morning. Mid-May. Mid-maybe,
misgiving, mistake, mid-take your time repeating after me
so long, so longing, lost and short of breath. Start
to finished lines means each between-the-line by heart

where hem reacts to haw—close shot—the big to-do list,
lights and stunts, month