Jan 042013

 Ralph Angel

A delicate trace of narrative runs through these three Ralph Angel poems, trace as in a whisper barely emerging from the silence of the white page. The narrative is romantic, the tone affectionate, erotic, connubial, ever so slightly comic (such an endearing mess the poet makes spilling his coffee, falling asleep in a bed of popcorn, cleaning up for his love who’s on her way). The poems are stripped down, reduced to essence, the words that remain are perfect embodiments of mood, character, relation. And they insist by rhythm and repetition. Note in the first poem “Willing” how

A kiss, a lick, “Miss me?”
“Of course, yes,”

goes to (by the logic of parallels) “a nudge, a squeeze…” and then modulates back closer to the original

some bread?”  A kiss, a lick,

“Miss me?”  “Yes, yes.”  “I put your book
with the magazines.”

And how the word “perfect” in the third line

a perfect cloud shadow,

and the word “brilliant” in the middle of the poem

dear.  “Hungry?” “Brilliant, yes,

fold together at the end (capped with a sly innuendo).

“Perfect, brilliant.  Might I have another?”
“Another what?”

These poems come  from Ralph Angel’s new book Your Moon, forthcoming with New Issues Poetry & Prose. And you might read these poems in conjunction with Ralph’s essay “The Exile and Return of Poetry” which also appears in this issue.





And further in…the train clacking and lulling…

rolling green hills coming toward us…

a perfect cloud shadow,
the lonely oaks.

And cows, one, and another, closer to heaven…
what’s up with that?

A kiss, a lick, “Miss me?”
“Of course, yes,”

you’re killing me here, my
dear.  “Hungry?” “Brilliant, yes,

absolutely.”  “And voila,” a nudge, a squeeze…
my stockinged foot curled

around your ankle, your shoulder
propped up on mine,

“we have grapes and brie, will you tear us
some bread?”  A kiss, a lick,

“Miss me?”  “Yes, yes.”  “I put your book
with the magazines.”

“Perfect, brilliant.  Might I have another?”
“Another what?”


Vacuum Cleaner

I erased the message.  You were
already on your way.  I barely heard you
pull the scent out of my ear
and put it in my
mouth again, where
I will kiss you.

Then I knocked over my café con leche.
What a mess.  Papers, piles
of books, I had a book
in my hand.

I like it better now,
the table.  The light cuts right
through.  I think you’ll
like it too.

Last night I woke myself up
in a sea of popcorn.  The movie
had long since
ended.  It was disgusting.
So we’ve got clean

If only I had a little more
time.  I take that back.  I really
mean it.  I wish
we hadn’t yelled goodbye
last time.  I mean we
really screamed it.

No wonder there was a beautiful
fish in the market.  The sky
dimmed the living room.  And peonies
opened.  No wonder
the cat’s lounging on the edge of the tub
while I’m making myself
presentable.  She
makes it look


Blue Hydrangea

Five trucks are enough.
The neighbors
are home.  We’re married

and handsome
and covered.  Nobody

for the first time.
I’m still
fighting you.

You wait on me. I wait on
you. Your memory’s
my body’s


—Ralph Angel


Ralph Angel is the author of five books of poetry: Your Moon (2013 Green Rose Poetry Prize, New Issues Press, forthcoming); Exceptions and Melancholies: Poems 1986-2006 (2007 PEN USA Poetry Award); Twice Removed; Neither World (James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets); and Anxious Latitudes; as well as a translation of the Federico García Lorca collection, Poema del cante jondo / Poem of the Deep Song.

His poems have appeared in scores of magazines and anthologies, both here and abroad, and recent literary awards include a gift from the Elgin Cox Trust, a Pushcart Prize, a Gertrude Stein Award, the Willis Barnstone Poetry Translation Prize, a Fulbright Foundation fellowship and the Bess Hokin Award of the Modern Poetry Association.

Mr. Angel is Edith R. White Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Redlands, and a member of the MFA Program in Writing faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Originally from Seattle, he lives in Los Angeles.

  2 Responses to “My Body’s Devotion: Poems — Ralph Angel”

  1. Beautiful. Thank you so much for these.

  2. So beautiful! Looking forward to the new book!

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