Saturday Apr 13

LemonAlex Alex Lemon’s most recent book is The Wish Book (a finalist for Best Poetry Collection by The Writer’s League of Texas). He is the author of Happy: A Memoir (Scribner—a finalist for Best Book of Non-fiction by The Writer’s League of Texas) and three other poetry collections: Mosquito, Hallelujah Blackout, and Fancy Beasts. An essay collection and a fifth poetry book are forthcoming from Milkweed Editions. His writing has appeared in Esquire, American Poetry Review, The Huffington Post, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry, Tin House, Kenyon Review, AGNI, New England Review, The Southern Review and jubilat, among others. Among his awards are a 2005 Fellowship in Poetry from the NEA and a 2006 Minnesota Arts Board Grant. He is an editor-at-large for Saturnalia Books, the poetry editor of descant, and sits on the editorial board of TCU Press and the advisory board of The Southern Review. He lives in Ft. Worth, Texas, writes book reviews for the Dallas Morning News, and teaches at TCU and the Low-residency MFA program at Ashland University.


a tower of sand dollars
on the window ledge

an egg of moonlight
cradled in the head

of a spoon
past midnight & everyone

in the darkest cave

of my body
there is a book

of monsters
it grows

each day a page
all of my dead

singers hackle
the cobwebbed black

I tell the stars
all the beautiful things

               they don’t know

They Say It’s Best to Leave the Knife in
after Sophia De Mello Breyner

I hear the lullabies of the dead in scarves
Of falling snow. In each blue vein
Beneath the skin of a breakable face.

We have front row seats to the doom-show,
To be the ghosts that sing in the glittery
Dark. I do not know anything about silence

The creek holds. I do not know how
The body can suffer incredible amounts
Of horror & still go on, can still hold

Bottomless reservoirs of love. I have given
Myself wholly to more midnights than can
Be counted—been buried in people just

To practice the simple fact of an ending.
The breath of night cloaks, cloisters—
Kissing the rat-scurrying shadows into gods.

Do No Harm

It might be foolish, wanting
To slurp & sinew a bit
Of everyone, but blow
The dust off the good

Word, polish lush its sharp
Edges & then, if you can
Handle the white-hot blush,
Stare at the universe I made

In its new glow—look
At the merry grinding in each
Letter, how it is both
Within & beyond—a funeral

In a fun house that is over-
Flowing with murmuring
Blowup dolls, the doorways
Blacked out by the beaded-

Curtains made from hundreds
Of rattlesnake spines hanging
Nailed from each lintel—hiding
The rooms where the need
To many of us have for action,
To do something about every little
Thing that has to do with us
Is dying. Its moans swallowed

By the midway’s barking music,
The jangling & rusted machines,
The endless echoes of heavy
Panting & all of it fits neatly

Into your purse or pocket—
A compact, the glass eye you
Carry for luck, a compass.
It is a word silvered lustrous

With multitudes, erected piece
By neon piece from every
True & kind thing one might
Ever imagine saying—darling,

Honey-child, my gorgeous little
Catastrophe—the caring that knows
The beauty in the wreckage,
The wonder of an untorn & spotless

Yellow dress ghosting in the topmost limbs
Of the chinaberry after the tornado. It is
Something to be he held up, an empty, open
Mouth offered up to the long dead starlight

That peeks through the shred of the post
Storm clouds. Its comfort is the thunder
That punches the ribs, the last, breath-snatching
Flourish of lightning on an almost clear

Day, the telephone pole that goes up in
Flames & the sparks that waterfall from
The powerline as birds of paradise up & down
It bloom. It is wisteria in a suddenly gustless,

Franticly charged air. It is the pearls inside
A dead bird the neighbor’s cat leave split
Open on the front porch, a black box
Recovered from ocean bottom debris

That, from take off to last blip on the radar,
Reordered nothing but Sam Cooke songs.
It is the meteor they say this will not miss,
Rainbows from smokestack to powerplant,

Doubling across the horizon. It is the ripe fruit
Taste of a hard grimace. It is not going back
To the old ways. It is remember: if you are
Hurt help is already here—mouth to mouth,

Chest compressions—I will stop the bleeding
With my own skin if I have to. It is come, come
Closer still in the quiet of the electricity out all
Night—where out there in the nothingness,

Everything can be seen. It is the lovebursting
Sprawl in one drop of our blood, the stardust
That marrows our bones, that showers the
Coming boom we hear with a hush-hush-hush.