Monday Jul 22

BallSally credit Charlie Leight Sally Ball is the author of Wreck Me and Annus Mirabilis. She has published essays and reviews in  NOR, Pleiades, the Review of Contemporary FictionThe Volta, and elsewhere. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Ecotone, Harvard Review, Ploughshares, Threepenny Review, Yale Review, and other magazines, as well as online at The Awl, Narrative and Slate, and in The Best American Poetry. An associate professor of English at Arizona State University, Ball is also an associate director of Four Way Books. She has received fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CAMAC Centre d’Art, the James Merrill House, and the Ucross Foundation. Her long poem HOLD is being made into a limited-edition artist’s book by Czech artist Jan Vičar, forthcoming in June 2017. Her website can be found here.

Gunning Our Electrics

Problems of attention, of group think,
after Newtown, Aurora, after today
in Pittsburgh: parents, principals
across the country reckon with the horror
by self-insertion, What if.
Empathy the secret of morals, yes,
it could happen here; also empathy is prey
to our vanity, our fetishy 15 minutes etc.
Driving through the drop-off line
we saw not just Mr. School Security
(jeans, pierced ear, eye on the girls
in uniform, Skirts long enough?) but also
Mr. Actual Cop in black boots
and Kev regalia designed to protect
him and to intimidate, reassure,
the rest of us. We see ourselves
as not peripheral. So too our psychopaths:
they look, they say, My people.

Furious Deities

        Plate 40: Bardo Mural, Ladakh
India [a photograph by Linda Connor] 

Two goats devour a man with an erect cock
and open eyes. The other scenes
are harder to discern: the horse
will trample the man beneath him?
or is it rape? The man looks bored.
And what seems like mild concern
mottles the third man’s wrinkled face—
he’s the captive of another goat.
The porn, apparently, derives from a tragedy
of appetite. The lesson has to do with poise
and how it leads to liberation. Everyone’s well-groomed,
the goats and horses wear regalia, their fur
curls neatly, their only wildness in the vicious kicking legs
and ass-delecting tongues; the men have neat
short hair and otherwise are nude.
They are, in any case, the prey.
And unperturbed. They are all men.
And dipping in—as if to join? or for a better look?—
two passing cranes, one with an eyeball
dangling from its beak. That eye unsocketed, and then
some flower-fronds. Cranes: those birds
sing and dance. They mate for life.


The Launderland window frames briefly
a mother and child pushing their grocery cart
down the sidewalk. I’ve looked up and seen them
because the clamped-on umbrella
(for shade) flails brightly, angled now,
so they appear to be fighting a fierce wind.
Which they are, metaphorically. Pushing
everything worth keeping into the wind.

In fact, we have fierce sun:
still, in late September, 104.
The long heat of the day will be with us a while
yet also the nights have grown cold.
People think it’s easier to be homeless here,
but that’s wrong. Phoenix is drastic, extreme.

Those two will shiver in the dark and blister in the day.

Tomorrow: super moon, blood moon, lunar eclipse.

They’ll see it from a park
or parking lot? A shelter? Underpass?

I’ll see the shy red moon
from my driveway, we have a car,
or my patio, we have chairs with blue cushions.
Maybe, if it’s low enough, I’ll see it from my bed.
My kids sleep fifty feet away, further,
with a light on when they’re scared.
Music, books.

When we moved in, in the floor,
we found an unopenable safe.

All day, wherever we go, near this new house,
we see people like that woman and her child:
veterans, addicts, in wheelchairs, on foot,
asleep on the sidewalk, standing on the median,
with signs or not with signs, seeking help or just
eking their way. So many men,
sometimes a child, sometimes a woman,
or a person with a dog.

At night, I think about the empty safe.
At first we thought, a gun! A fortune!
Velvet pouches full of rubies!
Now in the dark I picture the locked box full
of darkness itself, the dial of its face saying,
I don’t exist, I don’t exist, I don’t exist.

No solution, no safety-provision,
no fantasy heist.

Scraped out of the universe
and preserved just so, cylinder
of nothing-
ness and futility, what work does it do, hidden moon,
tucked there, in the foundation of my house?

Photo credit: Charlie Leight