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Kate Gale received her Ph.D. in American Literature at Claremont Graduate University. She currently teaches English at Loyola Marymount University and California Institute of the Arts and she is the Managing Editor of Red Hen Press. She is the author of six books and the editor of two anthologies. Her four collections of poetry are: Blue Air, Where Crows and Men Collide, Selling the Hammock, and her most recent, Fishers of Men. Her novel is Lake of Fire, and she also has a bilingual children's book, African Sleeping Beauty. Ms. Gale was first place winner of the 1998 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. Her newest collection of poetry, Mating Season, will be released in the fall of 2004 by Tupelo Press. Her current project is Rio de Sangre, the libretto for an opera by Don Davis.

Praying Mantises and Missiles

You have an idea.
You're going to change the world.
Take that same idea.
Let it stand up.
Let it walk backward.
Let it change you.
Big world full of people, pine cones,
pizza, peacekeeping missiles,
praying mantises eating their spouses,
pedophiles, preachers, pick-up sticks.
When the whole world envelops you,
close your eyes,
lie down where your whole body
touches the soil,
feel the chicken,
feel the egg.
feel stuff growing,
your hair, the soil,
trees could grow there
you could become a tree
any day now.

from Fishers of Men

 

Mayan Secrets

One boy tells another to open his hands
to the girl who sells tortillas on the corner.
She jumps over puddles to avoid
dirtying her Catholic schoolgirl uniform
Smile, say the first boy
to the one in love.

The one in love opens his brown palms
on Calle Hidalgo in Palenque, offers a ride
to Misol-Ha for a picnic by the falls.
But she wants to go to the ruins where her parents
fell in love before her father ran away
to buy a black ski mask, become a Zapatista.

She wants to clutch his arm down the 66 steps
to the tomb of Pakal in the Temple of Inscriptions,
feel their way back up the wet steps into open air.
They sit facing each other, palms touching.
Tell me the secret of corn she says.
Tell me the gift of sun, he replies.

from Selling the Hammock

 

The Orange Balloon

An orange balloon floats against the sky
let go by a small boy's hand
the hand is unimportant here
it is the balloon on which our happiness depends
or is it the sky?
vast untended full and empty
clouds way too much feeling
but is isn't the sky where our eye rests
it's the small box of blue space
around the orange balloon
the space in which the balloon
moves wallows breathes
this box of blue is your space we say
it defines you
and the clouds drift sideways
the drifting takes years
it takes forever

from Selling the Hammock

 

 

 2004 Kate Gale

 



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