The Poetry Section: Four Poems by Star Black

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

The Poetry Section

Back for the New Year! Four poems by Star Black, starting with Ode to Radnitzky.

Ode to Radnitzky

I can’t be a celebrity
because I punctuate, I dig
up arrowheads for exclamation
points, then make the mistake

of believing repetition can
be renewed, as if sculpture were
a wiry mobile of coat hangers Man
Ray didn’t do ninety years ago

when he was in art school.
Pass the gravel and make it cool.
I like mine grey. The road is too
possible. It’s in the way. I’m

Thumbelina on a pterosaur,
valleys a groan of tangled trees.
This ride was done in the movies,
movies Man Ray’s already seen.


I know you’ve been inducted
onto the carousel, its skeins of pigtails,
its melon-colored steeds, its cancan music
that swirls as a Ferris wheel in a flask,

but have you hidden any details,
any sullen elsewheres blocking the path,
have you been casual and coy rather
than wrathful, in need of a bath?

I have, but fallen pennies own
their wishes so I thought I’d ask, now
that winter is no longer a spa or a tricycle
dropped from the sky. Are you,

like me, unable to cry? Do your
divinations need companions? I would,
but cannot, take your hand. We’ll just stare
at bandoleers together, their giant pockets.


Less faraway than gay, something
encloses me, some somber sexuality
evangelic in origin, not exactly an orgy,
but more a circulation, coupled

by vampire abstinence, hesitation,
inswirled intimacy that never happens.
Do you think I need surgery? Or will
beet juice do? I am evolving. My

neck is teething, touched. My breath
has had enough breath, yet isn’t ceasing.
I’m in a spell-in-the-stairwell sort of feeling,
wan, urgent, spiral, and you aren’t

moving, just touching, and the drapes
are velvet, fuzzed maroon, and the room
is expiring like a tired roach, a roach
that’s seen everything evident.

The Bungler’s Crew

Only the military grinds you down
or grinds you into the ground, either way.
Its kids are bratty, they like to say, whereas
I, I am a boat of teeth, a few minutes

of comedy in a solarium at midnight
with an audience of one: a jade plant. I
seek lesser concepts: a lake dematerializing
into snap turtles with diesel propellers

ten feet away. I camouflage the inevitable.
The sky’s a drop-shot. At last. An osprey makes
an overpass. I don’t exist. I swim within rims
of crumpled fish-bait trash, a prey, a soup,

an exoskeleton. I’m left behind when
work needs to be done, work no one wants
to do unless they believe in you, my country.
Thinking never was your top priority.

Star Black is the author of five books of poems, most recently Ghostwood (Melville House). She has taught at The New School and Stony Brook University, and lectured at the Bennington Writing Seminars. An Artist’s Project exhibit of her collages shown in hand-made books will be on view at The Center for Book Arts from January 20 through April 3, 2010. She works as a photographer in New York City.

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