Emily Rosko Poems

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There's loneliness and there's this—
an unfrequented song, a startling voice
across years. A shifting position, hymn

To Pasture

Everywhere is a nowhere,
and here we are
in the middle of it.

Raw Goods Inventory

Oh, clouds that do not look like cherubs, move over! My heart
isn't big enough to include you. The crows shit on
my car every morning, such

gratuitous little fellows—the things I never asked for. Oh, unrecognized
genius, the modest beauty wasting from
illness, the good-kid-turned-bad. Failing

grade, summer heat. Oh, row of desks I loathed sitting at. In
school, we hatched chickens from an incubator, eggs
in rotation, the chicks deformed. One

with thin chest skin and no ribs—the organs sludged
and its cheep-cheep cries. The animals my mother made me
return—the rabbit, the toad, the slug. Oh, child

tossing a ball alone! The dandelions are systematically doused
with chemicals—the chemicals you'll sniff
as a teenager, the brain the unrepining side-kick.

Dear sister whom I cannot relate to, I surrendered my popsicles
to you! Friend who kept my videotapes. Ex-lover,
you fall so clumsily through old poems. Book, you

looked better on the shelf! Oh, the philomaths are paraphrasing
other people's theories, the same dribble! Numbers and words,
teleological trinkets that can't retain the world. Over

a thousand monarchs frost-nipped in Mexico—untranslatable
odor. Oh, sex-drive that won't be active forever! Oh,
old woman I will someday become! Take stock now, I say, use

your flexibility. Stomach stay flat, breasts don't droop any time
soon. Oh, body, you were once small
and resilient—you could shimmy through

tight places. Mind, you were sparked; heart, uninjured. I am
such a thing. Lazy day. Oh, wizened hickory,
I too grow out of myself.


Round and round they go
with a ribbon and garlanded
flowers in hand.

The bark won't unravel,
the tree spells solidness—we
grand, oaken, elmed selves

of the ancients. Our pith
is clean. There's no pining
away for tomorrow, we are

in current respiration,
we move with the wind.
Singular, we are

stunning. In horde,
we are dense, differing
dream. The autumnal

flashiness these days
is drought-determined.
We barely go beyond

the red. Our hollows
are never vacant. We live
to board; we take

the ax. Marbled inside
the original stem. We were
born we don't know when.


There was no room for us to have feelings.
Under the Queen, we were foiled, our faces blanked of wonder.
A pitiful ordeal, our cheap toil. We hated her for stealing.

Our crooked backs ached; our knees bled from kneeling,
the whole sum of our treasures given up to fund her.
There was no room for us to have feelings,

so we made our way quietly; we arranged our own dealings,
checked what we clocked. Each swallowed their thunder
and railed within. Nothing left out for stealing.

But pound for pound, we grew skinny, weary, reeling
from the new rules she devised. We had to watch and mind her.
There was no room for us to have feelings.

We were audited, then fined. We abided her schooling.
Then, all music stopped. All solitude filled, we couldn't ponder
our losses. We tried to forget how much she was stealing.

Our patron saints left us; the stars took to jeering, leering
at our lessened state. We hardened at our blunder.
There was no room to have any feelings.
What of us? Not a pittance. No worth there for stealing

Prop Rockery

We were thinking of starting a band,
all lined up like ducks in a shooting gallery.

This one would be gem, that one
metamorphic, the rest pebbles and some

laboratory-grown, semi-precious stones. The trees
were in it for the long-run; they swayed or stood

stoic, sheltered what they could. We made the cast
as an idle grouping: we played the trump, the idiot,

the glue. We backdropped with hearts hardly
beating, our eyes set straight in our heads: the bombed-

out school kids, the oilfields scrubbed in turns. We chewed
the fat amongst ourselves. You said, this place

should be more festive: a lightning bolt, a snail, a fraud. I set
a crumb aside for the local roof rat; you tallied the droppings,

the amputees, the gold. I blew my top when you lost
'Dominion.' You said, what can be done? It's gone,

it's gone. Wind started in through the rift-way, buzzed
over our slate-blue bones. All the leaves have aged

with kindness, all our pretend
looped and windowed raggedness went largely

unseen. We were on stage the whole performance, held
our breath for the final moments with cheeks rent

and red. No neck was slit on our backs; no distraught
lover jumped from our cliff's edge. There was a stirring backstage

we could sense it: a temptress, some anger, some
sin. Weeds came thick around us. The act

had been bungled sorely. We withheld our opinions, sat in wait.
We were good for a throwing.