Arielle Greenberg


I Won't Compose Any Verse About Loosestrife

or calendula, for I haven’t got some.
I ought not, and I ought not
pretend to be a friend to gardeners,
wish my petticoats, hold them like a basket.
I am dumb to syntax,
can’t see its slubs when there,
the braille of the gentry and gosh,
I don’t know.
When you slip me a ring finger,
mine looks furred, like the animals do,
and barren this block of land,
how fallow, a generous gift to clergy.
In my prairie shoes,
I am called towards highest work,
bring pits or seeds to the regional maypole,
make a sacrificial grammar.

Fake Nebraska

Write a letter,
post it: maybe
it’ll make it
to you the way

I call these plain
words long for you,
blue echo after
echo, again.


I once was lost.
When I found you,
you were bluer
than I could cope.

Blue Nebraska.
I just want mail,
lines, a male dog
to run to you,

make it not so
plain, not so blue,
but wider than
a letterbox.


Everything true,
a holiday.
And me, and you.
An open state.

The Yellow Bird

If you ever dream of me, do not dream the one with the tempted mutt
or the one with the seizures, or any of the others
in which I withhold from you, caressingly, dressed
in my dressing-gown and looking uncharacteristically aloof.
Or if you do—if you dream the dream of putting poison in your ear,
or the dream of the ladder accident—
raise your head high, against me.  You and what army
will rain down on my own sleep a field of anxiety bullets.
You and what army will sic on me the yellow bird,
and the fog of disruption, and ruptured ankles and joints.
I’ll know then that in my last night, I killed you,
and in your last night you rose again,
and we met afterward around the table to eat the pudding-
from-a-mix that Nobody made to comfort us.



Arielle Greenberg is the author of My Kafka Century (Action Books, 2005) and Given (Verse, 2002) and the chapbook Farther Down: Songs from the Allergy Trials (New Michigan, 2003). Her poems have been included in the 2004 and 2005 editions of Best American Poetry and a number of other anthologies, including Legitimate Dangers (Sarabande, 2006). She is the poetry editor for the journal Black Clock and a founder and co-editor of the journal Court Green. She is an Assistant Professor in the poetry program at Columbia College Chicago and lives in Evanston, IL with her family.