August 1999

Alice Friman

Alice Friman   This marks an author's first appearance in an online magazineAlice Friman has new work appearing in Ohio Review, Boulevard, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, and North Dakota Quarterly. Her most recent collection is Inverted Fire (BkMk Press). Her collection Zoo, forthcoming from the University of Arkansas Press, won the 1998 Ezra Pound Poetry Award.

Another Spring    Click to hear this poem in real audio

           from a first line by Robert Bly

A lonely man once sat on a large
flat stone
.  The woman never sat, 
flat stone or otherwise.
Lonelier, she tilted, one-cheek
cockeyed, ready to spring. Up
for the Heinz ketchup, rye bread.
Up for a prune Danish. He'd grunt,
roll a bloodshot eye. She read him
like the Kaballah: more soup,
another napkin, another
spoonful of gravy, pressing
a ducky pond in his mashed potatoes
the way he liked.

Look how you sit—half on
half off, he'd say, jabbing her
with his fork. She'd laugh.
Their two girls laughed, then chased
their peas around their plates.
Until—what's dessert?
and where's the mail? And up
her body clicked. Up.
A regular Jill-in-the-box, sleek
as seal, a tight bright braid.
A polished stone mono-buttocked
in a girdle, her two cheeks
together there must be no
crack showing not a sign of it.



Pantoum for My Father    Click to hear this poem in real audio

My father sleeps
They have taken out the tubes
No more whimpering
Railing    The worm in the stew

They have taken out the tubes
We are at the business of it
No whimpering    No worm in the stew
It will not take long

Listen to the business of it
Count the spaces between breaths
It can't take much longer
You can measure by the clock

Collapsing between breaths
Like the engine of sledgehammers
In the clock of my childhood
And everything he's said or done—

An engine of sledgehammers—
Is reduced to nothing but jangle
All he's done to me and said
Slipping off like bracelets

Reduced to nothing but jangle
Railing at Death    My mind's not right
Slipping away easy as bracelets
My father sleeps 



Alice Friman: Poetry
Copyright 1999 The Cortland Review Issue EightThe Cortland Review