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four poems.

In Las Vegas


When I write a novel in Vegas I ask myself what other people will think.

When I write a novel, I think a lot about eating.

When I call my friend, he gets very excited.

Out of my window I see a huge mountain.

Its striations make it look as if the rain has fallen sideways on it. Over

I have danced a lot. I have thought to become a novelist.

the years

I see a mountain that looks as if crushed by the rain. I see a sky

Pistons go up and down. Pendulums swing back and forth.

Wherein clouds drift by slowly and unendingly.

If a person who is in love with me reads this, they will care.

If someone who hates me reads it, they will dismiss me as an imposter.


Trees are protective things. The yard is clean. The door is opened

I read things that make me jealous. Alone.

to let in air. I have driven great distances and listened to a lot of music.

I read about people. I know. All women want to be beautiful.


The pool's light like moonlight.

The idea is to exercise caution and not give it up to them.

To say love and not be determined to show it then makes one a bastard.

To make proclamations `as these are very pretty things to make

and to script them out and cause ugly havoc in the universe

Over the hills there are lights and this heat.

we then must know. Over the hills there are lights.

You have been the measure of all greatness.

It is pleasant of you in my mind to have been so.

You please god to love then if measuring greatness within me

Pray for me, I be less wholesome when trees sway.

found sucubbus to be fled, sent out, and adored.

Winds. Winds go these every which way.


I like the sky. And I do not do

Interesting. I love you

the opposite of what the trees do.

is like sitting on a bench and you don't

Someone else has made you say it.

mean it when you say it.

An Interrupted Question

On their way to be transported there' is a question and a gust of wind.

The subject matter is love. It is characteristically true and desirable that the

It is characteristically virtue that stands in the way of the matter of love.

Woman be young.

There is perhaps, a disorder; the woman--her face--is disordered.

There is the absorption in her.

Then the noise of the several men mounting the stairs.

There is the absorption in her and the answer: the several men Mounting

There is the disorder of her negligee, the order of the several men.

the stairs.

The men are coming up the stairs. As characters they inspire both pity

As figures they master the `style and intent of the story and are somber.

and fear.

The men who have mounted the stairs are now gruesome.

The men who have mounted the stairs are pictorial and sensory even as

Gravitas itself is by no means' lost--though repressed by the episode's

the boy and the girl remain sensual and cruel.

Its language is lost to the gory and spectral description of love.



after Erich Auerbach's "Adam and Eve"

Nowhither to grow or to ascend

They show scorn to the ground

The brides compensate each other.

And it is this very degradation that discolors them.

They have been tempted to commit

Overwhelming and foolish acts in a scene

Simple, and in low style.

For to touch one another, for blasphemy

And it is all over. They go upright

But not very brilliant. In jest

One walks completely independent

Of her will toward the other and kisses her

On the mouth. Through an act which to us

Seems a monstrous portent comes an apple from a tree.

Green, in humid conditions, it's grown to be symbolic.

Accustomed to its own form, its town

It acts as figura.

In its temporal space as an apple

The both of them are women. There isn't a single man present.

A present.

They have breasts--two of which are smallish, white

Like porcelain saucers; the other two sagging

And fat--neither more feminine. This

Is important, however, because they have started to make out.

They have been making out for the popular belief

To be intruded upon; They have been talking and acting in jest

But have become accustomed to their neighbors.

"What do you say?." says the one to the other.

"With a scoundrel who did a thing like that

You can have nothing to do," replies the other, with big breast.

Her compliance is reliable, normal and what not to do.

It has been divided into two parts:

"What did he want with you?"

"Weal, advantage, betterment."

Treachery, they have been making out and now

The hardy one touches the sickly one's stomach.

(They are naked. They have already been naked.)

At this precise juncture the truth comes to the fore.

They are not in love, merely the only two humans available.

Picking an apple has nothing to do with

It. (They have, not even picked it.)

They offer each other special help.

The sickly one now puts her fingers inside of the burly one's cunt.

Her clumsiness is hard to understand, as this isn't the first time

Between them. In the mind and emotions this sex is a tangible scene.

The fat one talks and acts in a manner commensurate with the thin one's

The ancient and sublime occurrence of titillation is not disrupted


By the detail of these being two femmes, no Adam.

A New Way to Live

I am tired of forgiving like

At night. A forum for seriousness is Like

An intervention. Pleased to be cast

As a serious aid like a' pretty thing to the memory.

Like a belligerent thing in the memory true.

An attachment like trees is not like

A human attachment at all.

To hear a bell ring and then put a bell in it.

Is like trees that hear the sun and then

Put a sun in it like thirst.

Poems by KATHERINE LEDERER are forthcoming in The Body Electric c: 25 Years of America's Best Poetry from The American Poetry Review 1975-2000, Verse: The Younger American Poets Issue, and the web magazine Jacket. She lives in Brooklyn.
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Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:Nov 1, 1999
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