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Rose Black lives by the Union Pacific railroad tracks in Oakland, California, where, together with her husband, she operates Renaissance Stone, a studio and supply source for stone sculptors. Her book, CLEARING, was recently published by Moorpark Press. Rose has a passion for the prose poem, a form which works well for her and seems to illuminate her voice.

Poet Moira Magneson describes Roseís poems as a "canoe ride on a quiet lake, interrupted by a sudden, sometimes deadly, squall." In the words of David St. John, ďRose Black is a remarkable and heart-breaking poet. Her meditations on the passages of experience and the psychological resonances of childhood are compelling and powerful, surprising and illuminating. There is a quiet and elegant music to Rose Blackís poems, and once heard, itís not forgotten.Ē
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeding the Dog

Scoop the food out of the bag with the orange plastic cup. The bag has no bottom and sinks through the floor into the earth. The dog waits. Wagging speaks of what comes next. Heís had enough but wants more.

I scoop more brownish grey pellets into the cup, again and again and again. Better to err with too much than too little.

Soon the entire yard is covered with dog food, mountains of dog food. Itís spilling into the street and over the fence into the neighborís yard. Iíll never again be accused of not answering any creatureís I need and I want, or the tap tap of his tail on the linoleum floor from side to side, eyes focused and tongue flicking quick over his open red mouth and lips and again and itís a human dog and a hundred dogs. Iím feeding all the dogs and people in the neighborhood, the country, the world.

There is no animal in this universe that I am not taking care of.

They rush to me and the bottomless bag. If I try to walk away Iíll just stumble on the slick, licked pieces of what Iíve already laid out.

 

Backwards Over Egypt

We have almost arrived when the plane turns around. Dangerous air space, the pilot says. We arenít allowed over this country, and have to get to Egypt flying zig-zag, often going backwards. Then, right above our destination, we go into a holding pattern, and fly round and round before we land.

At the airport, we walk between green walls that have nothing on them except a signó WARNING, THOSE WHO BRING IN DRUGS WILL BE SEVERELY PUNISHED, AND COULD SUFFER DEATH BY HANGING. I look around. Should I quickly flush my aspirins down the toilet? Will someone please tell me what counts?

And, as so often happens when we travel to a foreign country, that night I plead with you to play the game with me, not the Stuck-On-A-Desert-Island game, where you give me two bad choices of who Iíd rather spend the next ten years with. Right now Iím not interested in climbing coconut trees and making spears for fish.

Right now Iím interested in what we call the Holding game, where you go back and back with me to visit all the turnings in my life, and while you hold me we decide over and over that the route I took was the way I had to go to get here.

 

God Prefers Us Naked

Do you know about the Rapture? How after the battle of Armageddon the righteous will be lifted out of their clothes right up into the sky? Perhaps, on their way to heaven, theyíll be undressed by snowy angels, soft fingers unzipping and unbuttoning, gently lifting out bare arms and legs≠ pants, shirts, dresses, socks, underwear of the righteous all fluttering down upon the trees and rivers, golden sand. Then, Whoosh! The naked whisked straight up to the right hand of God.

All the others, like me, will be burned on the spot.

But maybe if I beat God to it, rip off all my clothes in front of strangers, say look, say to God, look, I donít believe in you but look≠ wrinkled skin, clogged blood, brittle bone, warts and moles, say look, this is what Iím made of, then maybe Godíll get confused, impressed, stop right in his tracks, say what the hell is going on here, say to himself, hey, maybe Iíll save this woman, this woman naked as a baby, whoís already halfway there.

© 2005 Rose Black

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