Mudlark Poster No. 130 (2016)

Staggering Implications

	     That is not what I meant at all.
                                          — T.S. Eliot

Poems by Martha Zweig

Dys/Fluencies | Forecast | Holiday
My Debt to Society | Waterskin

Dys/Fluencies

The frog in the throat is language. The prince 
chokes up. Love always 
wants to croon, grunts the frog.

Two weeks along, the riverbank garbles with geese.
Tongue-tied the boy & tongue-
twisted the girl drive one
another around the bend with crazy talk.

This-&-that, a tossup, Frank’s furter split slathered
with Marion’s herbal verbal crisp & dicey 
mimsy-dressed & slithy 
tove relish.

Two speak more 
than two different languages.
He gives her his word,
she gives him hers; they plight
lifelong & lively misunderstanding.


Press sources’ forky tongues
slither in slick & slug out blind. Around & through 
the gag orders’ vowels a morning
edition puts to bed muttering never 
to take their word for it— jargons, 
gorgons, magmas & fumaroles, 
hot mud pots blubbering up.

Hebrew alphabet’s letters writhe 
& jitter alive, antic to infiltrate & thus
to extricate themselves & one 
another from sense & nonsense.

Aide riffles in passing the library’s Unabridged & 258
more-or-less words see light of day. Not
to eye or tongue or mind do they subside revealed.

I’m the shrimp whisperer. Tell
me something I don’t know. I settle 
into an area of crustacea
stirring & kneel.

Forecast

Groundhog Day, think spring! I hip-hop
higher the snowbanks, even as the crocodiles
of elsewhere flex
one nostril among themselves & consider another.

Surely one thing
follows another on great brute feet as toes 
follow fingers to count for something, & here
you’re a girl amounting almost to twenty

& soon enough to start to sour forever, but
not yet. I’ve got your shadow you don’t 
see covered with mine you do. Be 
not afraid. I’m telling you the dynasties 

of dinosaurs who summered along into the Cretaceous 
a while before they liquefied
feared one another most, & likewise we 
fear the careers our own fellows bully us out of & into—

but today we summon to honor this marmot, very
rodent of timidity, harmless himself & mistaken, o 
mistaken, poor thing:
scrambling back out of sunshine, our sorry celebrity.

Holiday

Not likely to die today, hooray,
for we woke together robust & zesty,
& weather’s too fine today
for any death, especially mine,

& the empire we detest
champions us collaterally 
in its every negligent brushoff of plump
golden  crumbs—

Not today! — butterfly whirligigs flutter
as flags squeak up their poles as the scales
of justice this way & that 
tilt to hummingbirds’ sips at the syrupy pans,

& so shall we sup our friends: silver plinth & tray 
of devilish eggs, a glossy lobster, herbed 
ox hanging out its sliced tongue, o clove-
studded fist of ham.

My Debt to Society

droops defaultish at mortifyingly
low interest. Not one Street wizard will bundle its worth
amongst his sorriest securities. Morning shower & wince: my own
steamiest mirror-image aches with ennui.

Have I bottomed-out? Truly I too 
once hopped smart to the fire-in-the-belly,
then heartburn & hiccups among the begrudges,
occasional ethical upchuck—

Shop sign: “Refurbisher of Zeal,” that wormy
small proprietor we patronize: Sacre bleu!  & as if 
strenuous oceanic waters slapped 
delta mud-flat zombie bodies awake— shiver,

drip & hoist up the rest of our lives: wives- 
slash-hubbies, sacks, cats & kits all abandon St. Ives.
Dame Nursery, she who blandished & outwitted us this far,
reveals hers as the face of the real world made up

entirely of apparitions. Boo: can I spook
any actual thing before the corner ahead whips it around?
They say a day comes I’ll not be heard of again, 
which I might miss getting notified in the din.

Waterskin

Thanks, think tanks, for the thoughts, Ophelia 
murmured among the pansies, & thought
of the gagging pond, mud like snot, & distant
whistles & twitters of minstrels having nothing 
better to do than each to embellish & tweak 
at another’s song.

Practice! lied the lyre. Meticulous practice instead 	
performed the pond-physician: attached its first- 
leech-best to the one patient-at-hand: exact  		
match to Ophelia’s peculiarities, a blacker-
than-usual leech, stringing out now, oozing her ear,
edging her face petals.

Episode: Ophelia twitches up in the drunk tank, acute
water intoxication. Reconsider, the pansies advise, 
yourself as a vessel. Hoist to moisten lips. Sidle 
bodily some shifty Sahara dune to refresh the lost; 
raise yourself as a gourd overhead to constellate 
slaves’ escape. Think: disguise.

Martha Zweig’s poems are widely published in Poetry, Boston Review, The Progressive, Paris Review, and Gettysburg Review, for example. Her collections include Monkey Lightning from Tupelo Press (2010); Vinegar Bone (1999) and What Kind (2003), both published by Wesleyan University Press; and Powers (1976) a chapbook from the Vermont Arts Council. Zweig’s latest collection of poems, Get Lost, has received the 2014 Rousseau Prize and is forthcoming from The National Poetry Review Press/Dream Horse Press. She has received Hopwood and Whiting awards. Her MFA is from Warren Wilson College.

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