Two Poems by Lauren Camp


Losing the Plot

We’ll keep at the table with our spirits
and spiders; we may not see the blue rain
but we’ll read ancient texts at noon through the storm,
then switch to the refilling swamp of bleak news
as the moon sharpens the night. Keep our sighs
like an entrance: They are not letting people in!
Not out! we will shout as a sad wind stabs at our windows,
our minds shifting from the possible landscape
of sleep. Months will dissolve into the flame of our withering
kitchen candle accepting the burn, the seasons kneading
our knives and our lifework. We back away
from the distance, hiding in each unforgiving pound
of disappointment, dizzy again. Can’t name
enough of what we know of the enemy
count, so we return to make good each old motif
of love. My love takes pills to squeeze out sad
horses of moans and the pills make inside him
a staining. Another motherless day, a day still empty
of steps. We’re in the gulch of some idiot hiring
for walls. I mold my hands to my love’s ears as I sit
splashed against his chest in our bed, and even
as he stands at the sink, his hands instinctive
with dishes, with soap and all it can remove.


A Capitol Day

To avoid the illustrious townspeople, I parked
under a bridge with a friend. The night moon wandered, prominent,
onto marble columns, beside a small curl of blossoms
and the nectar of yesterday’s trembling rain. We heard the testimony

of branches, the essential vagaries of a lazy Frisbee, of first
spring, its faltering emancipation. I lost track of the cadence
of courthouse, the sickle and hatred and wooden names
built to argument. Instead, what seemed strong was aimless

traipsing, the clock letting go
its puffy coat. I was looking at the cacophony of wide light
and random inattentions, the few clouds that sulked in the sky,
sweet simple things. I loved all the strangers, the rhythm

of their knees and steeples that reach up like questions
and that enormous abundance of the season
that’s coming and the sun just now like a pomegranate,
opening to segments and sheened with unmeasured juice.


Cover image by Tjarko Busink

About the Author:

Lauren Camp is the author of four books, including One Hundred Hungers, winner of the Dorset Prize and finalist for the Arab American Book Award. Her most recent collection is Turquoise Door. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Slice, Ecotone, Crazyhorse, Boston Review, Asymptote and elsewhere. A 2018 Visiting Scholar/Poet for the Mayo Clinic (MN) and the recipient of a Black Earth Institute Fellowship, she lives and teaches in New Mexico.