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Hadara Bar-Nadav

Hadara Bar-Nadav’s most recent book of poetry is The New Nudity (Saturnalia Books, 2017). Her previous books include Lullaby (with Exit Sign) (Saturnalia Books, 2013), winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize; The Frame Called Ruin (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2012); and A Glass of Milk to Kiss Goodnight (Margie/Intuit House, 2007), winner of the Margie Book Prize. Her awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

By This Poet

6

The Brilliant Fragments

To kneel by the cochineal
head of the dead.

Fragments—grammar
broken along the way.

I tell you the birds
dropped at my feet,

            eleven of them, sucked
            out of the sky, whole.

I return home.
I report the details.

The men who attempt
to control animals

tell me to bag each one,
though I am afraid

to touch their bright
stillness—

            the blank eyes
            in their blank heads.

            It is all wrong,

as are the chemical clouds
drifting from the fields

where the cows make
us milk and meat.

The sunsets beautifully hued:
oozy pink, infected apricot.

            Day after day of wrong color.

And then farm trucks encircle
the town and spray

a silver-white fog
to neutralize the air.

Twinkling stitched
to the sky

            like ghosts
            beading the wind.

Lullaby (with Exit Sign)

I slept with all four hooves
                       in the air or I slept like a snail

            in my broken shell.

The periphery of the world
                       dissolved. A giant exit sign

            blinking above my head.

My family sings
                       its death march.

            They are the size of the moon.

No, they are the size
                       of thumbtacks punched

            through the sky’s eyelid.

What beauty, what bruise.

                       What strange lullaby is this
            that sings from its wound?)

Here, my dead father knocks

                       on a little paper door. Here,
            my family knocks, waits.

Come through me, my darlings,

                       whatever you are: flame,
            lampshade, soap.

Leave your shattered shadows

                       behind. I’ll be the doorway
            that watches you go.

Thumb

Who means what it is to be human
and is scarred by childhood.

Thick and neckless. Your head shaped
like a gravestone.

A smile opens across the knuckle and disappears
every time you lift a tumbler of scotch.

Who holds a pen and lies.

Who holds a chopstick
in the language of still-twitching fish.

When you think of the past you form a fist
until a heart beats.

Once removed by a chisel. Then reattached.

You stiffen in the rain and dream
of pudding—a smooth, boneless lake.

Who butters morning toast
while wearing a butter hat.

Who fingers the ad for beef, grows numb
while talking to a girl on the phone.

Useless while typing. Useless
tool who only worships space.

A stump. A blackened stamp.
Your own private map of loneliness.

Who always leans to one side. Detached.
Distant from all others.