LIVES OF THE POETS

Found delirious on the streets of Baltimore. Died days later.
Died in shipwreck at the age of 40.
Typhoid fever. 44.
Orphaned at 14, dead from tuberculosis at 25.
Died at the age of 27 on a French hospital ship anchored in Aegean Sea.
Sister stabbed mother to death in a fit of anxiety.
Drowned at the age of 30.
Worked at the Post Office until death at 37.
Died of fever in Greece on way to war.
Drowned while sailing at age 29.
Died of pneumonia while commanding a hospital in Boulogne.
Stabbed to death in bar fight.
Suffered from severe epilepsy and depression.
Killed in action one week before war ended.
Died in an asylum.
Drank to death.
Jumped off an ocean liner.
Overdosed on sleeping pills.
Drowned swimming in Lake St. Clair in August.
Sick with Graves Disease for many years. Died of breast cancer.
Small pox.
Drowned in a sudden storm after seeing Doppelgänger.

 

GRAVE’S WHITE LADY NEEDS 52 CHARACTERS

Owl is a bird, so is raven, crow, but golden phoenix
is something else: vision of giant wings, baby body.
This is an experiment, as is everything we try
to do and I’m learning that though every letter can
count — every space, every single breath through the
throat a block, a vast, snow-white calendar square —
nothing is equal. “You can’t make the lines lie down
like that,” she says with a laugh and I love her but
what do you do with a muse with no view of le futur?
There’s no room for questions, only a memory of blue
silk scraps cut from a dress that dusted the stairs
and the wish to force an idea to conclusion in form.
So I find myself here at the close of the poem alone
while her voice slips through the bars of this page.

 

LA BELLE INDIFFERENCE

I found a photograph —
my hair was blond! —
and we played cards.

It was enjoyable. Every-
one here is very nice.
I found a photograph

of you and someone else
before my house in Florida
where we played cards.

They came to paint
our nails for free.
I found a photograph

of you as a tiny baby.
How is the darling boy?
Can he play cards?

I can’t seem to sleep.
I went to bed and dreamed
of a lost photograph
and playing cards.

 

SONY DSCDamian Rogers is the author of Paper Radio. Lives of the Poets first appeared in Event