May 2002

Ed Pavlic


Ed Pavlic teaches in the English Department and Africana Studies Program at Union College in Schenectady, New York. His first poetry collection, Paraph of Bone & Other Kinds of Blue, won The American Poetry Review/Honickman first Book Prize and was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2001. His critical book, Crossroads Modernism, will be released by the University of Minnesota Press next month. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Brilliant Corners, DoubleTake, Indiana Review, and Ploughshares.

Give It, Up 

In work boots & woolen
Wigwams, we're a cold wind in summer
trees at Sligo park. After all
the shins crossed in Gainesville,
Bridget can be anybody
she can have off the dribble.
Give Tiny the ball in the Cage
& there's nothing
he won't do if sunlight slips
between strangers. Shut Up & Play,
just two kinds of moron
at Nat Cole Park when L-no fell
in broken glass on the wing,
& you knew you had Jone-Jone
trailing by sweat beads
in his other woman's perfume.
She was here yesterday,
sat off in the grass like Sade
sounds in the shade. Damned
if somethingsomething ain't right
about how we do each other
wrong. If you pass it to Ranger,
don't come around tomorrow.
It's the only place in town I know
your pulse before your name. If you see Shame,
tell him we waited. Remember
the day we won three straight? The sun set
your palm on fire, fell in the chains
& never swore a sound
until Red & Ricky opened a trunk
full of joy & rain. One
death-still midnight in June,
we met alone under the streetlight
spot at center court. I asked
about your heavy hand
& you said Rough Shape
was out there in the parking lot.
On Saturday, you showed up
with That Scratch, our shadows
slow danced in the lane
& I tasted salt from a smooth
dome raised on your neck.
Who else can tell them
about Maurice & the color
of my shirt when I put point
in his eye. Last night,
you wore my skin
home & it couldn't have meant
less if I liked your punk ass.



Overgone Under 

You've seen brows fix & lie
quick as chalk snapped in the dark.
You've seen red
wind burn salt & hold mountains
in the air. Without a touch
from the wave, a skiff glistens
& disappears into thick folds
of honey over bumps
on the back of the tongue.
Off shore & beyond the sky
blue shelf, none hear the perennial
sounds of the whale fall. Nothing
bends its back in silence,
not even the long rib of a circle
older than a Humpback's song. Last
breath refused, huge
rhythm clouds roll for months.
Slides billow the dark slope. Pressures press
tones from before tendon
bore a staccato hitch
into reflex. In half a turn, a blink
tears thru a sailor's green eye,
passes under a sapling's skyward
stretch. This,
before music closed the first wet ring.
Blind as the teem
& tangle of a Sybillist's faith
in heat beyond lips
opened into light,
there's ten years work overhead.
Exhaled at the ridge, a bubble net
boils a milky seam into midnight.
A thousand herring in its belly,
another quiet storm begins
its thermal roll, something like thunder
shudders the skeletal plain. Schools
of lamprey flash the abyss & a new yard
of white bone comes clean.




Ed Pavlic: Poetry
Copyright 2002 The Cortland Review Issue 20The Cortland Review