The International Literary Quarterly

February 2009


Donald Adamson
Robert Appelbaum
Rosemary Ashton
Sujata Bhatt
Stephen Burt
Rita Dove
Elaine Feinstein
Sophie Judah
John Kinsella
Ron Padgett
Pascale Petit
David Plante
David Shields
Susan Stewart
John Thieme

Founding Editor: Peter Robertson
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Consulting Editor: Marjorie Agosín
Consulting Editor: Richard Berengarten
Consulting Editor: Jill Dawson
Consulting Editor: Denise Duhamel
Consulting Editor: Marilyn Gaull
Consulting Editor: Beatriz Hausner
Consulting Editor: Mimi Khalvati
Consulting Editor: Suzanne Jill Levine
Consulting Editor: Margot Livesey
Associate Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
Assistant Editor:
Jeff Barry
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Issue 6 Guest Artist: Anthony Whishaw

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture.

Lines Written at Columbia by Ron Padgett

The sky was like a blue blackboard from which

“Omnia Gallia divisa est in partes tres” had been erased

and Vercingetorix was an ape in tinted armor

(illustrations by F. Thompson, 1952 ed.),

for all my turning did but wait upon her pleasing

face that finds us in the open air

(“He clear did see that she was passing fair”)

for what is meet but meeting in the open air

30 cents with chocolate, 25 without

We descend from the highlands into the fertile plain

where peasants are tilling the soil to earn their meagre fare

the way you lose yourself when drinking pop

and feathers brush my temples lightly just before the scent of goons.

So run, lovely galosh, and play with the pretty goon:

across the room he stands half-crouched,

holding a rifle by stock and by barrel,

his long straight hair framing high cheekbones,

the tight, thin mouth,

as if he knew that the goddess really is

the girl with red, red ribbons in her hair

and a dead lily on her brow.

I knew,

for I was Anybody, big and growling,

my father sitting barechested

on an old Harley Davidson,

his arm right-angled in the air

with muscle bulging,

and behind him Mother smiling openly

in a breezy bathing suit.

So you too smile with a smile

as endless as a confetti of winds and unwinding

out to the Caribbean whose flickering throat of bees

hums out, “I love the way the dishes gleam

when you wash them. I think

they love you, too”

while you sit in a café

holding a book and a café con crema

the color of your eyes.

Alas, George Frederick Handel, I feel lousy and I think of you!

I cannot imagine sailing down 525 rivers at once!

But I imagine you,

most sensual of recluses, faint

in a haze of daguerreotypes, afraid

to address letters in your own hand . . .

How lovely it is to sit

among some old pink fleas

and think of leaving anywhere!

For I have been picked up and tossed

on the variable nonsense of my childhood

 “and I just come along to be one of those people”

the way Hobart Earp, cousin of Wyatt, did,

famous sheriff of olden times who lives this day.

Or did.

Today you are waking up the street

while you are walking down the street

because your grandparents saw the officers

put him on the train at Fort Sill and he

had insignias of hoof.

Me, I had undergone a gloomy metamorphosis,

treking across dead buzzards, unfathomable tundras,

flying buttresses, and the insufferable embarrassment of rainbows!

I waited for you as if for chimes

in a landscape without churches

and from a blur you came, at your neck a brandy keg

that suddenly burst forth, causing arrows.

The Rubicon slid into a foundry and sat down,

he stood on the porch and exulted

like a big drink of hula girls.

Now everyone has gone to see the Marx Brothers and I am left alone

to hike through my idea of Nova Scotia when suddenly

fear hits me with a white face,

it is filling me up in big drops

that fall on the university

in the shape of a William,

though the trip through baggy pants was exciting,

you in the left leg and I in the right (I thought!)

and the pay was good.

But you are my father?

Faust opened the can of peas.

Clearly it was time for some “backwards” . . .

though ugh, it was a regular backwards,

an anthology of forest that opens up

in the New York Times,

but you, mentally wonderful you,

I used to think you were Emily Dickinson

in the line, “I am Emily Dickinson”!

The doctor gazed out the window at Sunday.

It was very kite. “One of your deficiencies stems

from your lack of stems from.” I nodded out

as he ascended into Sunday with an armful of deficiencies,

for I was even happier than the corduroy slacks

on the Japanese girl who came as in a dream

with clouds of blue and orchid petals floating in her hair

as her dog leaped into the book and disappeared,

giving meaning and beauty to each and every thing
and the listeners fell quietly into the rain.