Three Poems by Deborah Bogen

Deborah Bogen

Deborah Bogen

Deborah Bogen's latest book, Let Me Open You a Swan, was awarded the Antivenom Prize by Elixir Press. Earlier collections include Landscape with Silos (XJ Kennedy Poetry Prize) and Living by the Children's Cemetery (Byline Press Chapbook Winner.) Her poems and reviews appear widely in journals, anthologies and teaching texts. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, the Philosopher of Science, Jim Bogen.

                                              Religion

the cave, sacred      before churches and  candles       before velvet    and choirboys          
    that great unlit mouth       where once we skulked      in wine-like dark      
our own throats             aching for water         for rain        for rain and more rain      
    for green     for wet      for that watery     holy          mark of favor
                                    ——————————

witness!       water from scorched skies    washing our faces     the green-world returning
    because we asked       because we sang       our skyward hosannas
melting a hard God's         heart, so Be the Cause         we sang, be the done
    right thing    this praising     this magic        this mystic word          must be marked
and placed in a box     in an ark     so we can name it      and build it a temple
                                   ———————————

do you remember          singing praises     when the rains came     when the children stopped
    dying        how we dipped them              drenched them       filled their eyes
        and ears         with the clear sweet          broth of heaven    
so much later         the cathedrals         the choir stalls           we covered our heads
    and took water         not from the river        but from the stony
man-made font    where we held     our living babies     and with a dripping finger
                      we marked them

 

 

 

 

                                               Art

all imagery is         ambiguous - like          the phone at 3 a.m.        when half-sleep
    chains the beast     to the  rose            and the inner theater            ignites
reminding you that       this is the hour     the owl came out of            when even God
           eye-balling the casket          felt a heaviness           in his limbs

                                      ———————-

outside the concert hall     thunder - or         is the percussionist     just nervous   
    as the conductor        lifts his baton      and the girl in the  balcony
leans into rapture    her heaving bodice       setting Jack loose      on London's greasy
streets           seeking prey     and release        and where               like the girl
he leans into          the hot taunting     pulse              the stitching              ripping

 

 

 

 

                                              Biology
                  
memory's an actor                   who misses her cues                 knocking things      
    from lobe to lobe          inventing scenes              as if she knows              
            what's happened          what's happening
but cognition's               a form of silence               my eyes staring   
            straight ahead          as I'm nailed to            biology's breaking wheel        

                                               ———————   

the neurons          the musculature          the dendrites     the synapses   
        the intricacies of the ankle         the cave of the skull     
and the inner ear's        semi-circular canal          the cochlea     
           its curving beauty          made it easy            to confuse vertigo    
with epiphany         to imagine        my life without           this unwinding  

                                             ————————

the adepts           with their mantras             confuse my efforts        
    to quantify        to calibrate         to distinguish fate              
from blastocytoma            they wag dark tongues          their teeth clacking              
    as I try to fathom              the seizure             the cancer          the soul
the end               that strong box              a sliver of clavicle          stuck in the lock