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Terese Svoboda

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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.

by this poet

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
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.
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