Dorothea Lasky: Three Poems


People do really bad things
But I don’t pay attention to most of them
I knew that Alex was my real friend
When he told me the one night
That true love can not be calculated or contained
Despite the orb of blue fire
I always hold right up to my lips
It is hot and earthy
And full of red and green stars
But the one I love is not a plant to grow you in
The one I love goes driving thru the streets
My true friends have always been poets
Laura, and Eric
And the other people
The endless need of people crushing everything too, the sublime
Most of the time I am not the coral
Most of the time I am ashamed of my happiness
But that’s because most of the time I do it in private
But not when my true love comes around
Then I do it everywhere
There is no place I would not be willing to make my true love sing
Even on the mountain where the seaweed is upturned into the heavens
Even then I would take his gentle hand with me anywhere
Even then I would not forsake anything he’s done
Even if he did really bad things
I’d dive into the rich waters to help him



Some people are zombies
Some people live with zombies
I live with a zombie
Zombies have flat affects
They are so frustrating
I turn into a demon
When I encounter
Blue-eyed nightmare
Curve my smile into its
What level water makes the eyeless eye
Oh yeah, that we are thrown out like trash
When we die
Oh yeah, that there is no elevation
And I throw myself in front of a train car
And again in front of the vehicle
Then in front of a plane
A boat, an endless thing
The sun burns out a corpse that is black and blue
And I live on with my own self
And I turn into a lyric when I see that zombie
And I turn ferocious when I meet that zombie because
The zombie is so much like me
But is the ugly parts of me, too
In that it has no style
No green operatic hat
And that it holds small brown lumps of dirt in its pockets
When in my own I hold the flowers
That I have picked from the zombie’s pockets
To give to you





I heard you
Show me mercy
So all I want now
Is to show mercy to you

What’s the problem
It starts in school

Then the decisions set in
That last a lifetime

I put my headphones in
I could have sworn I heard the rushing of the sea

The years advanced
I was 25, now 36, soon 60
Being a poet
No I was always 8. No always 17.
Long live the youth
The real poets
Among us

And when I left the class

I meant to say: Betsy, you are a really good poet

I meant to say: Poets, you are really really nice people

I meant to say

The variable sea is green

I meant to ask for things that could help in the understanding of the ocean

Not palm trees
But beach glass

Not things that matter
But things that really matter

So thank you for the time
You helped me get across the street

Your boat and the red sweater
You let me wear

And thank you for the warm cup of water
The blue-green drink

I meant to say

I meant before I left to say thank you

I meant to say thank you thank you
Thank you for the kindness you gave me

I meant to say
Thank you for having me here
Thank you for saving my life

And I thank you for finding yours

Under the searing teeth

Under the animal arm

In the orange bed

That so quietly is by me

In sleeping


Dorothea Lasky is the author of three full-length collections of poetry: Thunderbird (Wave Books, 2012), Black Life (Wave Books, 2010), and AWE (Wave Books, 2007). She is also the author of numerous chapbooks, including The Blue Teratorn (YesYes Books, 2012). Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, and Boston Review, among other places. She has taught poetry in a variety of settings, including New York University, Columbia University, and Wesleyan University. She currently lives in NYC and can be found online at


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