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About this Poem 

“This poem is an excerpt from my third book, The Uses of the Body. Linked lyric sequences comprise the collection—which takes the unruly, wayward body as its central preoccupation, and considers the pleasures and complexities of marriage and domestic life.”
—Deborah Landau

from The Uses of the Body

Before you have kids,
you get a dog.

Then when you get a baby,
you wait for the dog to die.

When the dog dies,
it’s a relief.

When your babies aren’t babies,
you want a dog again.

The uses of the body,
you see where they end.

But we are only in the middle,
only mid-way.

The organs growing older in their plush pockets
ticking toward the wearing out.

We are here and soon won’t be
(despite the cozy bed stuffed dog pillows books clock).

The boy with his socks on and pajamas.
A series of accidental collisions.

Pressure in the chest. Everyone breathing
for now, in and out, all night.

These sad things, they have to be.
I go into the kitchen thinking to sweeten myself.

Boiled eggs won’t do a thing.
Oysters. Lysol. Peanut butter. Gin.

Big babyface, getting fed.
I am twenty. I am thirty. I am forty years old.

A friend said Listen,
you have to try to calm down.

Copyright © 2015 by Deborah Landau. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 13, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Copyright © 2015 by Deborah Landau. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 13, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Deborah Landau

Deborah Landau

Deborah Landau is the author of three books of poems, including The Uses of the Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2015). She teaches in and directs the Creative Writing Program at New York University.

by this poet

poem
the moon might rise and it might not
and if it brings a ghost light we will read beneath it

and if it returns to earth
we will listen for its phrases

and if I'm alone at the bedside table
I will have a ghost book to refer to

and when I lie back I'll see its imprint 
beneath my blood-red lids:

not lettered
poem

At night, down the hall into the bedroom we go.
In the morning we enter the kitchen.
Places, please. On like this,

without alarm. I am the talker and taker
he is the giver and the bedroom man.
We are out of order but not broken.

He says, let's make this one short.
She

poem

I’m on a bike and someone’s name is forming.

The road is potholes the road is dust.

Cruising the dirt, the meadow humming with bugs.

Dust rising, tires crushing rock, bats ejecting from under the barn

streaming the insected air the pulse life repeating life looping