Stephanie Berger | Two Poems

LIKE AN ALTAR, OR MINIMALISM

Night is never night enough
Morning could be more morning
Fell asleep with the TV, Janet Jackson
works her way into your dream. I can’t remember
holding information in my head. I don’t remember
what it was like before
there were lists in the clouds, entire
atlases in our eyes, the core of the earth.
This morning I discovered meditation
is molten, more lit than literature. It’s true.
I am failing to speak the language
but I know now it is possible
to answer that calling
towards gravity. Dabbling in sobriety
is not the same as committing yourself
to one person. Everyone in the boxed
backyard seems to want boundlessness, life
without end. What if a boundary is
a promise? What if a limit gives it form?
What if a limit is a form of faith?
What about the neighborhood?
Is it safe? And how can I say? What
is the connection between rhythm
& libido, poetry & money, a dream
& a memory & a language & the lyricism
of matter, the warmth of the park bench
conducting sunlight in the square,
the square itself, it will be great to see you vs
I can’t wait to see you. If rhythm is the chart
of a temperament & you need some good, deep
diction in your life & poetry is uncounterfeiting,
uncounterfeitable, indefatigable, then why
do Rilke & I dream we are sculptors instead?
The principles of design do not apply
to death. Repetition is appealing to the eye
& yet we cut the fat. I wouldn’t want to
make things awkward for you
by expressing my feelings about that.

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TELL IT TO THE DOCTOR, TELL IT TO THE WIND

If she had a heart, this is where it would live, the waterfall
spitting lightly on her face like a lover, the stones
bathing themselves in the open air
like Roman queens, smoothing out their skin.
Around her, the grass had tired itself of growing,
slumped against a shrub & fell asleep. Meanwhile, the buds
continued to push themselves out of their beds
like good mothers, so early, so young.
What a shame that time passes,
that spells break, that we get old
& mean & die & everything
good goes galloping away. Wisdom
is so often overlooked, but put
the most familiar fact in a new dress, mount her
on a horse, & she will become an object
of your obsession, a goddess, stepping from peak to peak,
never planting her feet but on a mountain.
Even in wilderness, the imagination dominates, domesticates
its keeper but in a spirit palace. I dwell
in a many-colored cottage on the edge of the world.
Sometimes I am ashamed to breathe,
the sound and force of the need, so vulnerable am I
to the elements. A stroke of his lightning in the distance
& she becomes a poor, thin ghost of herself with a twittering
voice like a bat & no power to burn
with feeling. In my dreams I am armed
with scars, I can taste the iron-rich blood
moon in my mouth, & the gods still see me as a flower?
Delicate, uprooted, a muse is not supposed to communicate
in poetry but purely through inspiration & a solid
pout. Other times, all of nature appears to her as if it were nothing
but a human in disguise, so well do the waterfall,
stone, grass & bud communicate our predicament.

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Stephanie Berger is a poet and entrepreneur. She is the CEO of The Poetry Society of New York and co-creator of The Poetry Brothel, The New York City Poetry Festival, and The Typewriter Project. She is the author of IN THE MADAME’S HAT BOX (Dancing Girl Press, 2011) and translator of THE GREY BIRD: THIRTEEN EMOJI POEMS IN TRANSLATION (Coconut Books, 2014). Stephanie’s poetry and translations have appeared in dozens of magazines including Fence, Hyperallergic, Sixth Finch, Prelude, The Volta, Smoking Glue Gun, and H_NGM_N. Other honors include a 2015 &NOW Writing Award and grants from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Fractured Atlas, and The Casement Fund. Stephanie earned a B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Southern California, received an M.F.A. in Poetry from the New School, and has taught in the English Departments at Pace University and Berkeley College.
2017-12-04T09:12:57+00:00 November 29th, 2017|