Laurel Ann Bogen is the author of 11 books of poetry and short fiction, the most recent of which Psychosis in the Produce Department: New and Selected Poems 1975-2015, was published by Red Hen Press in 2016. Since 1990, she has been an instructor of poetry and performance for the UCLA Extension Writers Program, where she received the Outstanding Instructor of the Year. Bogen is a founding member of the celebrated poetry performance ensemble, “Nearly Fatal Women” and has read and/or performed her work at Cornell University, The Savannah College of Art and Design, The Austin Writers League, The Knitting Factory (NYC), The L.A. Metropolitan Transit Authority, MOCA, LACE and a host of other venues. She is a recipient of the Pacificus Foundation’s Curtis Zahn Poetry Prize, two awards from the Academy of American Poets and a 2011 Pushcart Prize nomination. Her work has appeared in over 100 literary magazines and anthologies including The Maverick Poets, California Poetry from the Gold Rush to the Present, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, Upstreet, Wide Awake, The Jacaranda Review, Stand Up Poetry and Miramar.
Three poems from Psychosis in the Produce Department: New and Selected Poems 1975-2015:
I Dream the Light of Reason II
The Reasonable Woman is a hope chest, a locked cabinet.
The Reasonable Woman is pleasant enough.
The Reasonable Woman is the converse of sex.
The Reasonable Woman is a durable good, a sound diagnosis.
The Reasonable Woman is a subordinate clause.
The Reasonable Woman is childproof, although Heidi is already up to her knee.
The Reasonable Woman is a skillet, a war bond.
The Reasonable Woman is a fugue heard on the intercom.
The Reasonable Woman is a graph of stock options, the percentage of return.
The Reasonable Woman is open to suggestion.
The Reasonable Woman is a string bean, a cauliflower, a field of potatoes.
The Reasonable Woman is a packet of Alka-Seltzer in the Accounts Payable file.
The Reasonable Woman is considering bankruptcy.
The Reasonable Woman is a stacked heel, a running shoe.
The Reasonable Woman is a pair of pantyhose in the bathroom sink.
The Reasonable Woman is fat free.
The Reasonable Woman is a shadow of herself.
Why would The Reasonable Woman become unreasonable?
May 12, 1971
Mornings starch white
the rumple of pastel sheets
two figures angle
and stave off encroachment
the sun blinks above canisters
bodies snap to attention
they move without collision
smooth and defined
collars and buttons contain static
it is 7:34
the figures compact themselves in chairs
there is coffee and stock reports
it is cheery like this
the day propped before them
like the Wall Street Journal
the solidity and logic
of the counter is interrupted
only by a wedding band
in the soap dish
and a pair of scissors
to cut coupons out of skin
she says she has to do something
he says that would be nice
and his vacant sky falls to linoleum
the short breath of morning
bustles questions into kitchen corners
it pats the figures on their hands
and says “there, there dear, it’s all right.”
Her belly grows larger
yesterday it was a bundt pan
Pride and Prejudice
snapshots from Mexico.
Today it is layaway
a 1980 Kenmore washer and dryer
and yellow plastic pacifiers.
It wants to be the moon,
a mango you sink
your face into.
You get lost in her fullness
and kiss her pomegranate lips.
Now she winds her fine hair
around your throat the fingers,
she pulls you inside her
and weaves your future
like a knot.
The book says
you have to learn
how to breathe.
You learn together,
going with the pain.
Your long ohhhh’s
glide like notes
on Tuesday mornings
and Thursday afternoons
when I would sing
Falling in love again
never wanted to
what am I to do
can’t help it.
© 2017 Laurel Ann Bogen