Rosmarie Waldrop Poems

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Shorter American Memory of the Declaration of Independence

We holler these trysts to be self-exiled that all manatees are credited equi-distant, that they are endured by their Creditor with cervical unanswerable rims. that among these are lightning, lice, and the pushcart of harakiri.

Conversation 12: On Hieroglyphs

Champollion fainted, she says, once he had wrested their secret from the hieroglyphs and saw them turn transparent. The serpent no longer with power to strike, but biting its tail. I smell my salts, my packets of words, panicked.

Conversation 23: On Cause

I step into my mother's room, she says, and though a woman's body is a calendar of births and injunctions to death, time disappears. Only dead enough to bury could prove sound to silence or the anxiety I know by heart and lung. In my mother's room.

Conversation 4: On Place

I sit in my own shadow, she says, the way my mother gave birth to it. In artificial light, blinds drawn against the darkness of power. I think of you as if you were that shadow, a natural enclosure, a world, not a slight, so I can wander through your darkness

Conversation 9: On Varieties of Oblivion

After bitter resistance the river unravels into the night, he says. Washes our daily fare of war out into a dark so deaf, so almost without dimension there is no word to dive from. Body weight displaced by dreams whose own lack promises lucidity so powerful it could shoot a long take to mindlessness.

Difficulties of a Heavy Body

a sense of
his thirty-third year
his elbow

from The Ambition of Ghosts: I. Remembering into Sleep

I. Separation Precedes Meeting

The cat so close
to the fire
I smell scorched
breath. Parents,

Like Holderlin

got up early
left the house immediately
tore out grass
bits of leather in his pockets


I have no conscience because I
always chew my pencil. Can we say
white paper
with black lines on it

The Round World

nature's inside, says Cézanne and
I do not like the fleshy