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Larry Colker spent his formative years in Huntington, WV. Following studies in humanities, Romance Languages, psychology, early childhood education, and psycholinguistics, his first career was teaching, from preschool through university levels. For the last 17 years he has worked as a technical editor and writer. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, Spillway, ONTHEBUS, SOLO, Cider Press Review, Blue Satellite and elsewhere in print, and on the Web at and in the online journal King Log. His new chapbook, What the Lizard Knows, was published in 2003. Larry co-hosts the weekly Redondo Poets reading at Coffee Cartel in Redondo Beach, CA. He currently resides in San Pedro, CA.

The Caterpillars

They wake like cosmetic surgery patients.
Memories of crawling vanish 
as the sun warms the bodies 
they could not have dreamed of:
Dog Face, 
Provence Chalk-Hill Blue,
Great Spangled Fritillary.

When the woman I married woke up 
next to the wrong man,
that was my signal 
to become inert,
await rebirth.

I want to be great,
I want the caterpillar’s gift to the butterfly—
amnesia, and wings.

Scenes from the Doldrums


Suppose a meadow came to me
for the seeds of my desire,
and spat back a malodorous forest
of squigial, pheglopperous stumps—
who then could I turn to and say:
"Behold the radiance of my soul?"
Better to remain a remote, rocky outcropping
barren, beloved of goats.


Not being clever, I stick
to the small kitchen way of life—
cracked drawers, floors malignant
with cheap cheese crumbs
and fluorescent pickle scabs.
So here I sit, a little doomed,
daydreaming flights of waterfowl.


Suppose I moved to a more lucrative time zone,
sipped my sins from a glass, honed my scent to a point?
Would any fandango filly-up to the bar,
ask me to flense her persnickety scales,
let me confuse her seasons,
peel her bombasts?
Suppose all this happened—
would I still have to dream up the past?

Crossing Over (Exhibit #204)

Somehow I have arrived in a strange land.
It turns out I speak the language
and there are people I seem to know.

Here I find the Larry Colker Museum,
disturbingly close to completion—
locked in glass cases
the blue wooden top my father taught me to spin,
the bare arm and shoulder of a young girl,
the first kiss,
the varsity letters,
the razor blade,
the recurrent dream of flying and falling,
the letters full of half-truths and cowardice….

There is not enough heat in this place,
and I can’t get used to everything turning gray—
buildings, food, flowers, hands, eyes.
Music gets harder to hear.

At the other end of the hall I hear a small child crying,
asking his mother if they can go home now.

“Newtonianism for Ladies”
(book title, 1737)

If you pursue him, he will flee.
If you flee, he will follow.
If you achieve the correct distance, he is yours.

If you make him your Sun, he will attract other bodies.
If you change his inertia, your paths will diverge.
If you remove heat, the system falls apart.

© 2003 Larry Colker

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