archives fall 2008



Mick Jagger (World Tour, 2008)

He stands on stage
after spot-lit stage, yowling
with his rubber mouth.  If you
turn off the sound he’s
a ruminating bovine,
a baby’s face tasting his first
sour orange or spitting
spooned oatmeal out.
Rugose cheeks and beef
jerky jowls, shrubby hair
waxed, roughed up, arms
slung dome-ward, twisted
branches of a tough tree, knees
stomped high as his sunken chest. 
Oddities aside, he’s a hybrid
of stamina and slouch,
tummy pooch, pouches under
his famous invasive rolling eyes.
He flutters like the pages
of a dirty book, doing
the sombrero dance, rocking
around the microphone’s
round black foot , one hand
gripping the skinny metal rod,
the other pumping its victory fist
like he’s flushing a chain toilet. 
Old as the moon and sleek
as a puma circling the herd,
a slim redwood on one shaggy leg,
head in the clouds, arms full
of skinks, tree rats, black-capped
birds. The vein on his forehead
pops.  His hands drop into fists.
He bows like a beggar then rises
like a monarch.  Sir Mick,
our bony ruler. Jagger, slumping
off stage shining with sweat.
Oh please don’t die, not now,
not ever, not yet. 


On the Beach

I watched my friend rip his draft notice in half, then sprawl
on the sand, the bottoms of his feet facing the waves,
his head aimed at the seawall, his muscled arms flung
north and south.
                               The scribbled halves turned
summersaults in the breeze. I watched them fly,
torn wings flapping past an old woman’s sunflower hat,
yellow linen petals draped around her wrinkled face,
between the wet legs of a thirsty dog
lapping water from a spigot, past the bronzed lifeguard
in his metal tower, downing a gritty ham sandwich,
tearing off the crust, spitting out the fat, seagulls
dive-bombing his perch.

                               I was a girl in a blue bikini
who didn’t know my swimsuit was named
after an atoll, how close the California coast was
to Pearl Harbor, how far from the country
he called Viet Nam.  I didn’t know then
how hard a boy’s heart beats
when he looks down at his hands. 

                               I searched his face like Braille,
looking for some sign, a twitch of regret or relief. 
No mark, no scar or crease, flawed his perfect skin.
I didn’t know what was right.  Eyes closed lightly
he seemed to sleep, his bleached hair splayed out,
salt-rimmed and stiff, a ragged crown
snagging the sun’s fierce light.  


Dorianne Laux is author of three collections of poetry from BOA Editions, Awake (1990) introduced by Philip Levine, and recently reprinted by Eastern Washington University Press, What We Carry (1994) and Smoke (2000). Laux’s fourth book of poems, Facts About the Moon (W. W. Norton), is the recipient of the Oregon Book Award, chosen by Ai. It was also short-listed for the 2006 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for the most outstanding book of poems published in the United States and chosen by the Kansas City Star as a noteworthy book of 2005. Co-author of The Poet’s Companion, she’s the recipient of two Best American Poetry Prizes, a Best American Erotic Poems Prize, a Pushcart Prize, two fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her work has appeared in the Best of the American Poetry Review, The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, and Best of the Net.