Two Poems

By  |  October 29, 2014
"And Abraham “And Abraham looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace,” by Adam Mysock; Courtesy of Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans "And Abraham “And Abraham looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace,” by Adam Mysock; Courtesy of Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans

Error's Refuge

Some things happen only once.
A molar pulled is gone forever,
a thrown spark. The invention 
of the internal combustion engine,
construction of the first public 
sewer system, the rivening blade 
of the axe, the first axe. First flight, 
ice, light, math, birth.  

                         And death, 
we think, happens only once, 
though most of us hold to the belief
some residue transcends, 
some fine filament that lingers on, 
the body gone into a stream of purity, 
the brain a blown fuse that leaves 
a bright flash, rib of arc light, 
nickel’s worth of energy cast out 
as seed onto the friable air, weed 
stem of electricity that grows no 
matter how often it’s hacked back, 
the 21 grams we long to trust 
is the soul surrendering its host.

Who could blame us for once 
taking refuge in the atom’s
indestructibility. We did not 
invent dust but can create 
great waves that envelop cities, 
sunder mountains of trees, render 
vast swaths of water and earth 
radioactive into eternity.  

                  Once upon a time . . .
we begin our saddest stories.
Once bitten. Once burned.
Once in a blue moon. Once more 
unto the breach. We die a while 
into each other’s arms and are 
reborn like Lazarus, like Jesus. 
Once we were warriors. Once, 
eons ago, some of us turned 
our backs to the fire, and some 
of us were annihilated by love. 


Chair

Oh the thuggish dusk, the newborn dawn, morning
cantilevered over the trees, afternoons doing nothing
again and again, like push-ups. Like watching
a redwood grow: fast and slow at the same time.
Clock ticks: each minute a year in your ear.  
The days are filled with such blandishments, nights 
brandishing their full blown stars, the decade’s 
rickety bridges, baskets of magazines open-winged 
on the porch, rusted wind vanes pointing north, cows 
drowsing in clumps on the hills. Will you ever come back? 
Will I welcome you again into this house? There are staircases 
sewn to the walls throwing bolts of deckled light.  
Let’s breathe that air.  You could sit in a chair, right here.


Listen to Dorianne Laux read “Error’s Refuge”

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Listen to Dorianne Laux read “Chair”

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Dorianne Laux is the author of several poetry collections, most recently The Book of Men. The recipient of many national grants and awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Laux lives in Raleigh, where she is the director of the MFA program at North Carolina State University.