Three Poems by Marsha Pomerantz


How to Love

Allegro ma non tanto. Alleg-
retto. Allegro assai. Allegro appassionato. Andante
cantabile. Andante con moto. Sehr langsame Viertel.
Allegro amabile. Allegro

non troppo. Sehr lebhaft
markiert und kraftvoll. Allegro con brio. Allegro
vivace. Adagio. Molto adagio. Molto vivace. Allegro
con spirito. Animato. Pizzi-

 cato. Poco a poco. Espres-
sivo. Etwas täppisch. Allegro animando. Etwas täppisch
und sehr derb. Allegro moderato. Sehr trotzig. Allegro
giusto. Lento e languente.

 Leggieramente. Resoluto.
Allegro aperto. Allegro con fuoco. Andante. Andan-
tino. Andantino in modo di canzone. Dolce. Resoluto.
Sostenuto. Sostenuto. Sostenuto.

Table of Equivalents

2 whites = one yolk. When substituting oil for butter use 1/3 less, guns for butter 1/3 more. 1 tablespoon baking powder = 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar + 1 teaspoon baking soda. All things being equal, 40 of yours for our lieutenant, plus one medium orange, which is 2 tablespoons rind. The mind, that Ocean where each kind / Does straight its resemblance find. To thine own self be two. If you love me I’ll love you. One pound rutabaga = two cups mashed. IN THE 65TH OCTAVE WE ATTAIN A FREQUENCY OF 427 BILLION HERTZ, WHICH PRODUCES A LUMINOUS ORANGE-RED. The  cost is an arm and a leg, like apples and oranges. Choose one from column A, one from column O. I HAVE SET BEFORE THEE LIFE AND DEATH, THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE; THEREFORE CHOOSE LIFE. Then in some Flow’rs beloved Hut / Each Bee, as Sentinel, is shut / And sleeps so too: but, if once stirred, / She runs you through, or asks the Word. So say 3 immies for 1 aggie, a cat’s eye, for keepsies. Business is the continuation of war by other means, duty-free. The greater the  pesu, the less nutritious the loaf and the weaker the beer. ONE MORE OCTAVE AND WE ATTAIN PRECISELY THE RESONANCE OF DNA. The square root of me is an imaginary emotion. A chocolate bar is 500 calories. A lifetime of burning peat for heat costs one lung. The kidnapper will free the girl if her father takes her place. I have set before thee meathook and machete; choose the yolk. The scribe is required to discover the new pesu, knowing that the original jugful was the product of half a hekat of grain. ASTONISHINGLY, IF WE ADD 40 OCTAVES TO THE MOON TONE, IT ATTAINS THE SANNYASIN COLOUR OF ORANGE IN THE 70TH OCTAVE OF THE SYNODIC MONTH. I give you that the sky begins beneath your feet. May I have a receipt?


They Run

They run. In every generation some run on every continent,
mostly Africa, often Asia, used to be Europe, never Antarctica
though penguins hurry. Even America north of
the Great Equator. They run. Sometimes the continent drifts and
they cannot but shift back with equal and opposite
perturbation. I’m saying this more slowly than it happens.
They run in only two syllables, right left right left, those that
have both options still. They run in dust, grit coating
the insides of their open mouths. They used to run with
baskets and satchels and duffels, now
backpacks and laptops and iPods. Some
hang back to pack, some just go sans portmanteau. Some sew
into the lining of whatever cloak remains things
fathers bestowed before they ran, but
these days what fabric has backing? Some, running in summer, notice
green sun glowing through luminous leaves at 4 a.m., but find in
dawning beauty a betrayal. Always it is too late, always
is all ways where time equals distance and everyone
runs. Some run shouting Where is, shouting Grab him
leave her
then equal and opposite Grab her leave
, those that have both options still. They run. Some tie
the doll to the child’s wrist, circle the child with a fence in the
mind, padlock the mind, bury the key by the planted tree,
then run. Someone pushes Nana in a handcart to the border,
where guards barter, then balk. They run. Nana
can be Granny, sometimes Mima Oma Savta. Always a trochee
with an open end, a feminine rhyme, like the skin that
smiles on the bottoms of her feet, then laughs itself
away. She runs. Coming round a corner, men for days unshaven
glimpse themselves in windows and scare at the sight. They run.
They run through wheat fields and rice paddies, yank
a gourd off the ground, but also through trolley barns, strip malls, empty
market stalls where turnips roll off a table. Grab them Leave
say those that have both options still. They run. There remains
in the middle of the road a sandal slapping air with its arc of
strap. They run. Some in torrents run like salmon
against the waters for their lives and for their
spawn. Mud sucks their boots off. They run. Inside-out around
them buildings are turning, people too outwearing their
innards in cries. Listen to the rustle of
the lining. When it comes our time to run all
ways may we, on a late green day, betray.

About the Author:

Marsha Pomerantz’s The Illustrated Edge (Biblioasis) was among the Boston Globe’s Best Poetry Books of 2011.