Apology for want by Mary Jo Bang

By Mary Jo Bang

Winner of the 1996 Bakeless Literary ebook Prize for Poetry

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Sample text

Nothing can be grasped.  Why insatiable need?  Your beloved won't speak only points out what is missing that piece of brickish-red could be the edge of a building, the gossamer blue might be the sky. It's Tuesday, the oracle of stone.  The comfort of a doorway demands requiem or fugue; a dirge can be found in the light shade of gray where two shadows meet. One day you'll be grateful that music's been written especially for this. Over time, you'll be experthigh-pitched, lean. You'd like to know more but the clairvoyant is so rarely at homeor demands more than you have now in pocket or purse Be careful of twice-folded notes: inevitably they say, Warning: You have no future.

Beggars, prodding airy nothings, making promises: hay and a bed in the stable, if only. Page 38 Electra Dreams Night is when I give you new clothes. Suits you never owned, borrowed cuff links rented ties, until you look nothing like your former self. The gods might strike me dead if they knew you were the object of this sad ecstasy. Sometimes I dress you as the well-dressed man I pass each morning on the street. I'm drawn to his brown suede hat. Or the doctor with soft hands who told me it's best to think of pain as a number between one and ten.

No instrument registers the ache of the act. Only now there goes missing that delicate issue of mortal and mind. You travel on, headed somewhere yourself: where house, where dog. Where a thin layer of glitter covers years of shamed wear and loss is now what you live with. Page 56 & There He Kept Her, Very Well Harsh orange, dull burn of realization. My imperfections, once subtle, are now inadmissible. Still he keeps me like a pretty need-not in this fusty dungeon. Someone has chosen poorly: a pale persimmon for the walls, the ceiling, the floor.

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