Three Poems by Jessica Lowenthal, winner,
The William Carlos Williams Prize, 2003



PERSONAL POEM

I am beginning to alter, I hate my verses, every line,
every word, I am kind to my neighbors, I am not anyone
in particular, I am not a painter, I am a poet, I am sorry

that Che Guevara is dead, I asked for something to eat,
I asked if I should pray, I, Maximus of Gloucester,
to You
, I can't live

blossoming drunk, I dream of nude policemen
investigating, I'd swish though the door, I dwell
in possibility, I keep my diamond necklace in a pond

of sparkling water, I myself like the climate of New York,
I celebrate myself (I pray you've finished) I celebrate myself
and sing myself, I look back to you, and cherish

what I wanted, I said: "The flowers in this light
are beautiful," I know the colour rose, and it is lovely, I know
I change, I see the winter turned around, I shout:

"I shall return," I lost you to water, summer, I wanted
to be sure to reach you, I will sleep, I will die
in Miami in the sun, I will grieve alone,

I have not ever seen my father's grave, I learned to be
honest, I will teach you my townspeople, I, the poet, I wake up
in your bed, I know I have been dreaming, you,

you also, Gaius Valerius Catullus, You, Andrew
Marvell
, you blame me that I do not write, you love me,
you are sure, you send me your poems, you sit in a chair

touched by nothing, feeling, you've gotten in
through the transom, you come to fetch me
from my work tonight, you approach me carrying a book,

you who desired so much--in vain to ask, we talked
to each other about each other, we resolve to think of ourselves,
we take place in what we believe, we make our meek

adjustments, we must see, we must know, we live on the third world
from the sun, number three, nobody tells us what to do,
we shall have everything we want and there'll be no more dying



WHEN IT WAS

O Love, it is no longer

easy. 'Nothing, Nothing
that you can do,' you strive
more or less desperately
          to get inside. These imposed

musical schemes, "useful"
         maybe, I mean it, but easy? Nothing,
Love, nothing, when I intend neither
         diving nor falling gently with a light

splash, after the expected time, frolic, spree,

into the water, being or coming
         after all others, my sublime
sea-piece, a marvel, endless

time after, or, I mean,
it doesn't end, or another word
             so substituted. O Little, O allow,

         return it. What have you done

to deserve it?
Was it the time before
         the present time, having that quality
at least, when you tended to it last?


BOREDOM SONG

I don't know--it's a bad analogy
or a bad infinity, the on and on-
ness of the ocean, the soul or body
as a boat, etc., the whiteness of the

whale. I'm not going to marry you,
Mary, or whoever you are; I
don't know how to tame the honey-
head or why you crown the syllable

king when nouns and verbs convert.
I don't know--it's ethics, anyway,
involves not only a complete sentence
but the will to change. What changes

I don't know; it's a bad sentence
or a bad infinity that put you in the boat.