<< LRL 7
9 poems from Lizard
by Sarah Rosenthal

Sometimes L
forces herself
to watch the
monster movie.
Starring her, the
evil monster. Old
story. Look at
her, sunning.
Medieval dragon
if you say so. But
hero too, in
fabulist mail.
Virgin, hewn

Questions you may
have: How does a
lizard feel pain?
Does she remember
five minutes ago?
Did you push your
luck with her? Is
she the girl across
a crowded room?
Does she point like
an arrow, audition,
listen, soak?

She rests lightly
Drifts off to
wake famished.
But feeding’s a
chore to a groggy
girl. She sprawls
in a cloud of bad
breath wanting to
warm the day,
warm to the day,
day isn’t hers, it

At her best
gestural. And
a little lost

I should know
more. Should I
count her, make
a mark. Tell
over drinks. She
scurried into
underbrush. Yea
long. Thus colored.
Horn occipital.
As if skin listens.
Later you muse on
memory’s nature

Parasites burrow
under her skin, into
her gut, gorge
to enlarge. Where
they creep she bulges
inelegantly, oozes
infection. Is she
wise to tolerate, does
she have enough,
does saying no
buck nature? She
doesn’t blame beings
designed to leech.
Everyone’s born
with a strategy. And
then we execute

She befriends
her obstacles—
eagle, sun, neck-
biting mate. Carves
a poem from every
gesture: dig, roll,
tap, dash, curl.
Freeze and thaw
are Lizard’s fridge
magnets. Give, her
motive force. Keep,
nothing she knows.
Leave, a day’s work

I eat my sister. No
one cares because
we’re not pronouns,
says Lizard. We’re
not names. I’m not
Lizard and this is
not a magic act. This
is real, tongue so
long and muscular,
toes scaling verticals,
third eye parietal

Lizard’s a slapstick
actor. Her timing’s
no timing, her
grace is no grace.
She’s cutest when
she doesn’t know
her name. So how
are you, vertiginous,
you’ve been waiting
for a lizard to topple
you, now it happens,
now go build a frame
for the raw moment


Sarah Rosenthal is the author of Manhatten (Spuyten Duyvil, 2009) and the chapbooks The Animal (Dusie, 2011), How I Wrote This Story (Margin to Margin, 2001), sitings (a+bend, 2000), and not-chicago (Melodeon, 1998). Her collection of interviews, A Community Writing Itself: Conversations with Vanguard Writers of the Bay Area was published by Dalkey Archive in 2010. She serves on the California Book Awards poetry jury and manages programs for the Developmental Studies Center.

<< LRL 7