Saturday Dec 02

RivardDavid David Rivard is the author of five books: Otherwise Elsewhere, Sugartown, Bewitched Playground, Wise Poison, winner of the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets in 1996 and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and Torque. Among his awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ranieri Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, as well as the 2006 Hardison Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library, in recognition of both his writing and teaching.  He teaches in the University of New Hampshire MFA program.


“I see you,” she says—
one of the flickering homeless with gray
alehouse hair, pale blue
eyes, crunchy lips—a methadone-
troubled moth by the YMCA—but what
does she see?—maybe
the chubby, right-handed schoolboy
at St. Joseph’s sent
outdoors by nuns to clap clean
the chalkboard erasers,
or the wary
teenage shipping clerk at lunch break
smoking pot for the first time
behind a curtain factory
shed? perhaps the middle-aged
mortgagee? maybe an ex-
proofreader in lawyerland or betraying husband?
maybe a sore loser? how about
a new father smiling in tears?
why not
the complainer’s
ally, or the devoted wanker,
or inert
doubter, or the annoyancer,
or toddler?
if not the circumspect bald man,
crank, or unselfish
lecturer—does she
see them all?—maybe
each would like
a lamp to carry;
though there are nowhere near
for all the
rivers there are
to cross.


Transtromer to me, after
I’d told him
of the place I’d lived three months on Lidingo
suburban Stockholm island, former servant’s quarters
(a maid for the big house with its gingerbread shingles?)
the yard aspens & maples, birches
by the quiet cove
and an old clawfoot bathtub left out
there that the owners claimed
Greta Garbo had bathed
“there must be
many bathtubs people are saying
that about
on Lidingo”—so
he thought—& I believed him.
One of the taller enigmas, with a fisher’s warm smile.
The one man with
a valid theology.

On Remembering the Smell of the STAX/VOLT Girls
Aboard an Early Morning School Bus Headed to Sacred Heart

Irishy girlfriends—prime-time commuters
now with overbite smiles—with your hejira-
blue, blue-eyed chromosomes, & your lucid
loyalties, broad shoulders like ponies pacing
the mud track at Aqueduct or a county fair
—I don’t regret a future with you never
came to exist, only that my memory
short-circuits the times we had together,
back in that city-state where they called
the corner store a spa. The bishop shut
The Academy of the Sacred Heart for Girls,
and it got reborn as an 9-condo knock-off
for would-be Cartier cufflinks. The 12-
pack aunts & uncles sold-out too, the epic
of tenement life crashed to a close—
all the newcomers smelled of having
a mind-boggling score on the LSAT.
But back there among the lackadaisical
and violent your bodies kept me stoned
for days years ago—one especially—
the befogged & toothy real thing,
with brooding freckles & brushstroked hair,
hair that you might like to bite, but gently—
the schoolgirl who launched a sticky little
free-for-all—packing heat like a cloud
full of chlorofluorocarbons, her Catholic
kickpleat skirt hiked up in sub-zero air.