The Poetry Section: Kathleen Ossip

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

The Poetry Section

Today in the poetry section; two new poems by Kathleen Ossip.

On Political Crisis

Grace Success consists in ignoring
what you don’t like, as a bunny

leaps past tinfoil
in his search for greens.

You don’t need spring fever
in a garden of tinfoil;

to seize the choice bit
in place of the glittering

or the made-up
means the whole plot

will be changed, gladly.
In the vicinity,

all relish posturings;
the problem is how to remain chaste

next to so many furry bodies
when those we thought would cuddle us,

whether weeping or jeering,
have fled.

The problem is how to remain.
Words are no doorstep whatsoever

for the orphaned and penniless.
The hop to the shed

is driven by wanting
to fill the wreck with delights reordering.

How can we know the journey from the path?

Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
-Bob Dylan

A lone tumbleweed bounces by
the institutions of power
and the institutions of power or
the daisies in front of the institutions of power

are my last big chance at a voice.
A lone tumbleweed bounces by.
Am I morally obligated to care for this organism
or can I kill it? I’m loving my

desperate organism.
Talking in class was “pretty cool” at one time,
my last big chance at a voice. I wanted to
go play bingo and breakfast at IHOP.

Now, everything’s not OK or
not everything’s OK. Heavenly daisies,
though. Mary Queen of Heaven
in the prayerbook

bare toes crushing the serpent
looked silly. And the institutions of power
look silly if you’re from them in-
sulated enough. They’re losing their suits

in the institutions of power. Helen
Vendler’s looking “mighty like” Sasha Fierce.
Both have expert memories of those
who appreciate their bitchy science.

The beauty’s only part of it.

Perseverance is beautiful, and embarrassing.
How many institutions of power remain?
Several. Several. Organisms are delicate

and bleed.
They bleed
and we are morally obligated to care for them.
How should I know what is right?

Ask a good question:
You’ll have success immediately.
I got a flowering plant as a present.
The original flowers and tall attractive leaves

have died, leaving a low, dull mess.
Am I morally obligated to care
for this that shares my home?
My husband is baffled by my spiritual questioning

and my boyfriend is irritated by my spiritual questioning
and my girlfriend ignores my spiritual questioning
and my boss fears my spiritual questioning
and I’m loving my desperate organism

and my last big chance at a voice.

Kathleen Ossip is the author of The Search Engine, which won the APR/Honickman First Book Prize, and of Cinephrastics, a chapbook of movie poems. Her new book The Cold War will be published in 2011. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Paris Review, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, the Washington Post, Fence, The Believer, and Poetry Review (London). She’s an Editor at Large for LIT, and the Poetry Editor of Women’s Studies Quarterly. She has received a fellowship in poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts.