Monday, May 18, 2015


Elizabeth Willis
photo by Juliette Valery


The day I drove

in a driving rain
from realism to impressionism

a moving hillside fooled the town

What does it take
to make a happy ant?

a dropped lozenge
on the damp step

bumping into a friend
in the daily grind

avoiding death

Still you slip away
in a desert hospital

and cannot see to see

Hawthorne's hand
against your hair

the stumbling blue
of windowed air


A thought on the lip
of little sand island

An easy messenger
who forgot where to go

I came to laugh
in a dirty garden

A thwarted paulselessness
considering pearls

I was fluent in salamander

Everything wrote itself onto skin
with a tangled blowing

An opal eye looking down
on an errant package

A sky wrung of tint

What is the meaning
of this minor error?

The reflecting pool
no one could read

A beach fire snagged me
with its bright emergent eye

My colony sought revolt
in every yard

The present was a relic
of a past I was older than

Taking its language, I became an abridgement
of whatever I contained

A social imperative of silky fears

I wanted air
I wanted the balloon

Darkness flaked down like bottle glass
invented by a poor oily sea

A house made of soup

Others formed an invisible order
felt in every part

The male of the species was
louder than the female

Females made the mush
a sound of offstage sweeping

Boys played a game of torment
and sleepy forgiveness

while girls read their books on the rocks
containers of a solar plot

Little bird, fox on a string

A caravan of foreign number
staging death


A smudge against the smallest dress
buried creature, of sly erasures

in the storied night, long e
cricketing awake, asleep

IV ( a few stones for Lorine Niedecker)

This I is an idyll
I captured the first day

the office between
the leaf and the external

Landlord I said again

you can't move a river really

yet with no apparent music
my face would pass


Elizabeth Willis
New and Selected Poems
New York Review of Books 2015