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Rose Black lives by the Union Pacific railroad tracks in Oakland, California, where, together with her husband, she operates Renaissance Stone, a studio and supply source for stone sculptors. Her book, CLEARING, was recently published by Moorpark Press. Rose has a passion for the prose poem, a form which works well for her and seems to illuminate her voice.

Poet Moira Magneson describes Rose’s poems as a "canoe ride on a quiet lake, interrupted by a sudden, sometimes deadly, squall." In the words of David St. John, “Rose Black is a remarkable and heart-breaking poet. Her meditations on the passages of experience and the psychological resonances of childhood are compelling and powerful, surprising and illuminating. There is a quiet and elegant music to Rose Black’s poems, and once heard, it’s not forgotten.”









Feeding the Dog

Scoop the food out of the bag with the orange plastic cup. The bag has no bottom and sinks through the floor into the earth. The dog waits. Wagging speaks of what comes next. He’s had enough but wants more.

I scoop more brownish grey pellets into the cup, again and again and again. Better to err with too much than too little.

Soon the entire yard is covered with dog food, mountains of dog food. It’s spilling into the street and over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. I’ll never again be accused of not answering any creature’s I need and I want, or the tap tap of his tail on the linoleum floor from side to side, eyes focused and tongue flicking quick over his open red mouth and lips and again and it’s a human dog and a hundred dogs. I’m feeding all the dogs and people in the neighborhood, the country, the world.

There is no animal in this universe that I am not taking care of.

They rush to me and the bottomless bag. If I try to walk away I’ll just stumble on the slick, licked pieces of what I’ve already laid out.


Backwards Over Egypt

We have almost arrived when the plane turns around. Dangerous air space, the pilot says. We aren’t allowed over this country, and have to get to Egypt flying zig-zag, often going backwards. Then, right above our destination, we go into a holding pattern, and fly round and round before we land.

At the airport, we walk between green walls that have nothing on them except a sign— WARNING, THOSE WHO BRING IN DRUGS WILL BE SEVERELY PUNISHED, AND COULD SUFFER DEATH BY HANGING. I look around. Should I quickly flush my aspirins down the toilet? Will someone please tell me what counts?

And, as so often happens when we travel to a foreign country, that night I plead with you to play the game with me, not the Stuck-On-A-Desert-Island game, where you give me two bad choices of who I’d rather spend the next ten years with. Right now I’m not interested in climbing coconut trees and making spears for fish.

Right now I’m interested in what we call the Holding game, where you go back and back with me to visit all the turnings in my life, and while you hold me we decide over and over that the route I took was the way I had to go to get here.


God Prefers Us Naked

Do you know about the Rapture? How after the battle of Armageddon the righteous will be lifted out of their clothes right up into the sky? Perhaps, on their way to heaven, they’ll be undressed by snowy angels, soft fingers unzipping and unbuttoning, gently lifting out bare arms and legs­ pants, shirts, dresses, socks, underwear of the righteous all fluttering down upon the trees and rivers, golden sand. Then, Whoosh! The naked whisked straight up to the right hand of God.

All the others, like me, will be burned on the spot.

But maybe if I beat God to it, rip off all my clothes in front of strangers, say look, say to God, look, I don’t believe in you but look­ wrinkled skin, clogged blood, brittle bone, warts and moles, say look, this is what I’m made of, then maybe God’ll get confused, impressed, stop right in his tracks, say what the hell is going on here, say to himself, hey, maybe I’ll save this woman, this woman naked as a baby, who’s already halfway there.

© 2005 Rose Black

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