Laura Kasischke

Laura Kasischke Poems

The white bowls in the orderly
cupboards filled with nothing.

The sound

Like the human brain, which organizes
The swirls and shades of the bathroom tiles
Into faces, faces


I thought we were playing a game
in a forest that day.
I ran as my mother chased me.

The beautiful plate I cracked in half as I wrapped it in tissue paper—
as if the worship of a thing might be the thing that breaks it.

This river, which is life, which is wayfaring. This river,
which is also sky. This dipper, full of mind, which is

That dream of a cricket
in the dark of the night
at the foot
of the gallows tree.

Once there was a woman who laughed for years uncontrollably after a stroke.

Once there was a child who woke after surgery to find his parents were impostors.

These seagulls above the parking lot today, made of hurricane and ether, they

A tail, a torso, a tiny face.
A longing, a journey, a deep belief.
A spawning, a fissioning, a bit of tissue
anchored to a psyche,

Like silent naked monks huddled
around an old tree stump, having
spun themselves in the night
out of thought and nothingness—

Recall the carousel. Its round and round.
Its pink lights blinking off and on.
The children's faces painted garish colors against
an institutional wall. And the genetics. The

Small and panting mass
Of moonlight and dampness on a log
This glistening tumor, terrible frog

So like the slow moss encroaching, this
dark anxiety. In the bricks
by now
and all along

Once, I was as large
as any living creature could be.

I could lift the world and carry it
from my breast to its bath.

One night from the other side
of a motel wall made of nothing but
sawdust and pink stuff, I

For G
A small thing crawling toward me
across this dark lawn. Bright
eyes the only thing I'm sure I see.

The truck that swerved to miss the stroller in which I slept.

My mother turning from the laundry basket just in time to see me open
the third-story window to call to the cat.

A cold wind, later, but no rain.
A bus breathing heavily at the station.
Beggars at the gate, and the moon
like one bright horn of a white
cow up there in space. But

Little tin key
lost somewhere in my memory, returned to me in a dream.

Like the blue-burning match blowing over the surface of
some drunk girl's sweet, flaming party drink. Happy
birthday. Lucky

coin rubbed away to nothing, turned back into invisibility.
Back into its first atomic energy. Both

lost forever now and all around me. I've
rendered it, it seems, back into its
first longing — to keep

safe the loved ones on the plane, or on the freeway, or
strapped to the gurney, opened for the surgery, wheeled
into the lobby, being

screened for the journey, or stamped with the date
at the entrance to the pool, the portal, the nightclub, or

any spot where one might pull to the curb, drop
off a soft target, kiss it, make
with it a plan to fetch it later — 

unbloodied, still breathing, in no hurry. This
talisman with no magic. I've made it for you

out of your own flesh, teeth, hair.

My neighbor keeps a box of baby pigs
all winter in her kitchen. They are

motherless, always sleeping, sleepy
creatures of blood & fog, a vapor

of them wraps my house
in gauze, and the windows mist up

with their warm breath, their moist snores. They
watch her peel potatoes, boil

water from the floor, wearing
a steamy gown. She must be like

Demeter to them, but, like this weather
to me, this box of pigs

is the cause of all my suffering. They smell
of invalids, lotioned. Death is over there. When I

look toward my neighbor's house, I see
trouble looking back

at me. Horrible life! Horrible town! I start
to dream their dreams. I dream

my muzzle's pressed
desperately into the whiskered

belly of my dead mother. No
milk there. I dream

I slumber in a cardboard box
in a human kitchen, wishing, while

a woman I don't love
mushes corn for me in a dish. In

every kitchen in the Midwest
there are goddesses & pigs, the sacred

contagion of pity, of giving, of loss. You can't
escape the soft

bellies of your neighbors' calm, the fuzzy
lullabies that drift

in cloudy piglets across their lawns. I dream
my neighbor cuts

one of them open, and stars fall out, and roll
across the floor. It frightens me. I pray

to God to give me
the ability to write

better poems than the poems of those
whom I despise. But

before spring comes, my neighbor's
pigs die in her kitchen

one by one, and I
catch a glimpse of my own face

in the empty collection plate, looking
up at me, hungrily, one

Sunday—pink, and smudged—and ask it
Isn't that enough?

In the mirror, like something strangled by an angel—this
woman glimpsed much later, still

wearing her hospital gown. Behind her—mirrors, and
more mirrors, and, in them, more cold faces. Then

the knocking, the pounding—all of them wanting to be
let out, let in. The one-way conversations. Mostly not

anything to worry about, really. Mild accusations, merely.
Never actual threats. (Anyways, what could they possibly

do to you now from inside their locked, glass places?)
Still, some innocent questions on some special occasion

might bring it all back to you again, such as: Might
you simply have forgotten where you left me when you left me?

Or—Shouldn't you be searching all the harder for me then?
Or—the question that might frighten any woman being

asked this of her own reflection (no
tears on its face, a smile instead)—How far

did you really think I'd go without you? Then—
Don't you think that's where you'll find us now?

Remember sleep, in May, in the afternoon, like
a girl's bright feet slipped into dark, new boots.

Or sleep in one another's arms at 10 o'clock
on a Saturday in June?—that

smiling child hiding behind
the heavy curtain of a photo booth.

All our daysleep, my love, remember sleep

like brides in violets. Sleep
like sleepy pilots casting

the shadows of their silver jets
onto the silver sailboats
they also sailed
on oceans miles below.

Such nothingness, on the other

side of which
infinity slid
into eternity, insisting

that we had lived together forever—and did.

Laura Kasischke Biography

Laura Kasischke (born 1961) is an American fiction writer and poet. She is best known for writing the novels Suspicious River, The Life Before Her Eyes and White Bird in a Blizzard, all of which have been adapted to film. She was born at Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kasischke attended the University of Michigan (MFA 1987) and Columbia University. She lives in Chelsea, Michigan, with her husband and son. She is also currently Allan Seager Collegiate Professor of English Language and Literature, and of the Residential College at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Kasischke's literary works have been recognized and highlighted at Michigan State University in their Michigan Writers Series. Her novel The Life Before Her Eyes is the basis for the film of the same name, directed by Vadim Perelman, and starring Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood. Kasischke's work is particularly well received in France, where she is widely read in translation. Her novel A moi pour toujours (Be Mine) was published by Christian Bourgois, and was a national best seller.)

The Best Poem Of Laura Kasischke

Kitchen Song

The white bowls in the orderly
cupboards filled with nothing.

The sound
of applause in running water.
All those who've drowned in oceans, all
who've drowned in pools, in ponds, the small
family together in the car hit head on. The pantry

full of lilies, the lobsters scratching to get out of the pot, and God

being pulled across the heavens
in a burning car.

The recipes
like confessions.
The confessions like songs.
The sun. The bomb. The white

bowls in the orderly
cupboards filled with blood. I wanted

something simple, and domestic. A kitchen song.

They were just driving along. Dad
turned the radio off, and Mom
turned it back on.

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