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Rosemarie Dombrowski

Rosemarie Dombrowski is the author of The Book of Emergencies (Five Oaks Press, 2014), which was the recipient of the 2016 Human Relations Indie Book Award for Poetry; The Philosophy of Unclean Things (Finishing Line Press, 2017); and The Cleavage Planes of Southwest Minerals [A Love Story], winner of the 2017 Split Rock Review chapbook competition. She has founded several journals and event series, including rinky dink press; The Revolution, a creative resurgence of the official newspaper of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association, and Merge poetry journal.

Dombrowski is the recipient of an Arts Hero Award, the Carrie McCray Literary Award in Nonfiction, and a Fellowship from the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics. She was also named a finalist for the Whitman Bicentennial Poetry Contest sponsored by Brooklyn Poets, and nominated for five Pushcart Prizes and a Whiting Fellowship. She is a Principal Lecturer at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus. Appointed in December of 2016, Dombrowski is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, Arizona.

Read about Rosemarie Dombrowski’s 2020 Poets Laureate Fellowship project.

By This Poet


At the Center for Autism Research

The doctor draws a series of complex diagrams.
Behind me, the bird is swinging wildly in its cage.

In the first of three graphs, tin is a color,
mercury a sunset, aluminum a stick-figure drawing
of a girl holding a small boy’s hand.
I realize that the methylation chain is filled with sorrows.
The doctor speaks methodically
as she traces a circular path with her finger.
I repeat the names of the essential aminos,
attempting to commit all ten to memory.

I purchase three bottles before leaving the office.
I tell the receptionist that I know what it means
to heal wounds and repair tissue,
that I know where to find a cool, dry place to store them.

Tomorrow, I will snap open the capsules,
stir vigorously,
force you to swallow.
You will hate me with your eyes
as you gasp for breath.

I will swallow handfuls when my heart grows weak,
when there’s no more energy for diagrams or theories,
when all the good bacteria have died like bees.

Anti-Chlorinated Feminism

The gospel of the journey is realizing
that eating is a political act,
that the Woodstock of the mind
is everywhere on a tiny planet like ours,

that the inventory of the body
is equivalent to the trauma
that comes from crop-dust in our eyes,
carcinogens in the crotches of our panties,
black women doing the math
that put white men on the moon.

And there are always
more questions for consideration—
like admitting that it’s hard to tell who’s shooting
while we’re praying with our eyes closed.

Civil War

The dead bird is a kind of song.

I think about the end of Lorca, the act of loyalty,
the incidental things.

And I wonder what we’ve really discovered,
what anyone truly knows before their exile.

Maybe just this: that both sides of a double-sided coin
can be wrong.
That anything moral is a dilemma.

According to Spanish legend, the king of crickets
steals the voices of boys,
leaving them mute.

According to you, this is why you’re here:
for the truce-making.
And for the words.