Rosanne Wasserman


Hold That Thought


I'm trying to not overpay for experience,
though the Rose eludes me:
these fanfolded tissues & rubber bands
are far from the True Carnation.
“I'm holding a patent on reinventing the wheel,”
but we’re not held to these ten questions.
“I have a list of randomly chosen facilitators picked:
They come through and they look the same year after year—
but they're not the same.”
You know which ones are yours. You have to
own it. It’s homemade. That junk didn’t pile up all by
itself in your corner. Pity the unburied spider, lost
forever, over there.
We who have seen this before, and my darlings who’ve
never seen anything like this:
There is always true life in the corners. It’s not
expensive. It endures. It unfolds backwards.
Its binder never snaps. We treasure it.


Long Games


Such is our forward motion
we don't weep till we’re stuck at red.

But that's why we read Homer:
We want to see the gameboard whole

because we can't take suspense—
we jump up, walk in circles,

open the windows, and throw our full attention down on green:
different games endless games brief games

that don't even matter except to take
emotion out of thought till something else grows—

But what is it? Another poison tree?
“I don't know if I can even shift into reverse”

“I don’t know if I even could shift into reverse”
“I don’t even know if I need to shift into reverse”

“Even I don’t know if I should shift into reverse”
“If I should shift into reverse, would it come out even?”

Well, yes, but the game is much longer than we can play,
its players in both eternity and now:

the now that we can’t see all of, the eternal
behind and before our traffic, our lights, our turns


Meanwhile, Back on Scheria,


The feed declaimed that wisdom grew with age,
That characters were limitless: signs, letters, alphas, falcons,
The logos of IPOs. It was so much fun!—We used to use
Mountains, beetles, oceans, yellow eyes.
And mirablé! what we said we saw could be recorded:
Like Earthshaker’s back-of-a-hand, to the ocean floor—
Did the ship hit bottom, did it root, becoming stone?
Or did it strike an outcrop—rock or reef—and just go
Down, three times around, a gallant done with gallivanting?
We’ll never find our way back there again,
And what a loss! They had the very best pizza in the sea.
Oh host, oh hostess, have you any bars? Is there a
Signal? You get my message? Did you even check?
Can you erase that thing on tape? There’s no recorded
Pretext: the stitches dropped so deep, no one
Can tell what yarn they spun. It was probably just a
Crux, but it felt like you were on
Atlantis. It was like you were on the moon or
Oz, or Neverland, or Paris, or the dream
Of a city where you’d lived your whole life long but never seen.
We were trying so hard to return. We could not remember
How we’d left, after that party, our party bags swung
From our wrists, our clothes as fresh as if we’d just
Dressed up before the wedding, back in Tunis. Wasn’t
Somebody supposed to touch my face to show me home?
Why do I look so beat-up and so old?
Time to open that really, really early mail,
This valentine that came before you recognized the image,
Its words appearing as you learned to read. “I’m yours,”
It says, as always: “Please be mine,” in Scheria, in
Eden, where we’re reaching from inside a wide lacuna
To tell one another, again, how it used to be.
But we’ve read ahead—we did, we checked the Wiki page,
“Next Season”—and this kid marries that kid,
So there’s surely some way back. Ho for apocrypha,
Then, fan fiction, fanlights, fanning flames:
Conjuring up new futures, with old names.




Just a very bright bell, self-billed: “better pleasure,”
“leave NOW,” “unbearable! change,” “fuck this,
I’m outa here” when gray paragraph breaks, or
download drags, or imperceptible droplet of
blood doesn’t rise that last quarter-artery branchlet
to un-de-brain you. You’re brainless, where’s that oxygen?,
you’re breathless, where’s that tube? Open the home
of Joker, Ace, near-infinite Reshuffle.
It’s textbook, but no textbook that you’ve written,
even read. It’s black and white, too, saving
picture cards, that classic trio. It’s so
interactive: hot, as in media, as in mess,
unlike the New York Times, unlike airport,
church, or state: more like Masterplots by Fuzzy
Logic. What does it teach, what’s the
takeaway, what serif-heavy blackletter motto
unfurls itself, seraphim’s trumpet-sash curling
beneath the endlessly reshaping solitary deck?
One hand for the keyboard, one spirit hand. Now
let’s hear that Zen applause.


How Cold Is Outer Space?


“I can't wait for the holidays to happen so I can just sit at home alone with my shredder.”

What I say to myself in my corner / embroidered like spiderweb with conversations / trying to catch—of course—a morsel / to nourish some sense of where to move

on the gameboard of What-Are-We-Playing-Here-Anyway / through visions with lines I remember / from everything anyone ever said or read to me / and what I've read to myself, then forgotten

and what I've seen and now need to describe so / the others of me can remember as well / because, lemme tell you—you robot of / voice recognition, you—most of whatall / I forgot, or I'm still forgetting / is now stuff I have to make up as I go along

and of course there's a witness, / witless herself: an ear and a typewriter / cold, confused, thesauricizing / misapprehensions for all, and that's some, / she's worth. "Horizoning," / said my old teacher, koine-ing one for the books again




How does this deck discourage speech?
Three cards down, flash-voguing:
tell me what they mean: I cannot say

I can’t curse in cursive. I have curves
I like these fingers, cool against my lips:
fewer than, less than, under, < 3 be

run-in quote, be blown kiss, be the V
of girl / church / hill / victory / vagina / peace
sans dental & gutteral, everything rhymes:

enable the labial, past palate, “jump
through teeth,” as Athena says: your
foggy guess as wayward ruminant

not in the heard. Butterfly, your
wings aren’t silent / pollen, you
stir the air; snap of card on table

huge as monolithic fall. Bird flight, star
path, entrails, tea leaves, yarrow, wonky
gyroscope of clay: what way, you say?

Now so then and not yet all at once
you want to cry, but you count it instead
on your fingers, you tap it out:

gee oh / tee oh / ess ell / ee ee pee
a spell to soften night’s cracked skin
almost without a sound


You Don’t Remember Me, But 


Who does? You should. I am here at your side, where I always wanted. You do seem
familiar. Do you wanna dance?—does anyone ever? Listen, please: Let me promise you I
know you. I know who you used to be. We met before, once, long ago at a party, in 83,
out on the border between knowing always for sure and sleep, and now I am wearing
your clothes by accident, though, clearly, so are you. I have to say, that’s some shiner,
some car you’re driving, some cute kid, some piece of summer. Give me a moment to tell
you how that happened. I dreamed of CPR last night on a half-drowned lap baby in a
wading pool, not lost, but up to me to perform maneuvers to make breath start: But I
woke up. That’s when I came to you and started talking; that’s when you started listening
again. Can you hear me now? You never really can: just take your time. I was there when
it started, along with you; you just didn’t catch my name or image or frequency or signal
or intention or point of view. There’s a reason I’m calling.


Rosanne Wasserman’s poems appear in Best American Poetry, Jubilat, ek-phra-sis, Conduit, Cimarron, Jacket 2, Maggy, How2, and elsewhere. Her books include The Lacemakers (1992), No Archive on Earth (1995), and Other Selves (1999); as well as Place du Carousel (2001) and Psyche and Amor (2009), collaborations with her husband, the poet Eugene Richie, with whom she runs Groundwater Press. A new chapbook, Sonnets from Elizabeth’s, just appeared from Grey Suit, London.