Swift Among the Willows

Lisa Russ Spaar Click to

Lisa Russ Spaar is the author of Satin Cash; Poems, Blue Venus: Poems, and Glass Town: Poems, for which she recieved a Rona Jaffe Award for Emerging Women Writers in 2000. She is editor of Acquainted With the Night: Insomnia Poems (Columbua UP, 1999) and All That Might Heart: London Poems (University of Virginia Press, 2008). A collection of her essays about contemporary poetry was published by Drunken Boat Editions in 2013. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2009/2010 and serves as poetry editor for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

 “all are mere productions of the brain”
    J. Swift, “On Dreams”

Midnight in the deanery, gangrenous flies,
his mind having moved from honey pot
to excrement, as when God invades the ear.
Vertiginous, silver, trees of the past are weeping
into the canal.  Eels, slim as women’s ankles,
signal beneath the pond’s glass.
Fleet clouds suddenly, Presto!
In the Sluttery mirror, memory’s weeds,
his Ladies – Skinnibonia, Pooh, Skinage, Governor Huff,
brats, rakes, all! & esp. those known “on horseback.”
Something like Regret:  the small married one, cowering
at the locked drawer whom he swiped & pinched,
forced by mouth with rum before turning gravely away to prayer,
the Chancery finding him finally unsound of Mind & Memory,
altered for the worse.  Sinuous eels of the trousers of Ireland,
pink, freckled flesh, fetid swamp of jock, pubis,
clenching menstrual flowers & vaginal sponges,
sheep’s-gut johnnies tied to the flagging horn with red ribbons.
Never much one for that, now Self in fugue:
I hardly understand one word I write.
He’s a ruined mill up-river, greens martyred,
rotting in the shallows – hear me, Stella
No Romantick, but his scrupulous, pared nails,
clumsy tutor’s hands once fumbled in her tiny doll house.
Giant thoughts, minute spoons, forks, dung beetles, men, swallows
lasso and devour the brain & all its unconsummated vistas
still gloaming behind his feminine, his bent & supple spines.