Three Poems by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

By  | September 2, 2014 | 2 Comments | Filed under: Poetry


Three Poems by Jane Rosenberg LaForge



Before my father turned me into
a tree, I was fire, skin, and all
the atomic numbers I coud not
memorize because I had no intelligence
or all my intelligence was in my feet.
I was only feet, and hands, a trunk
and fingers, and I was wild: like fire
I created my own weather systems as
I hiked and waltzed, just as sound does
in a stadium if the sound is loud enough
and the stadium is sealed just tight enough;
just like a cycletron, a centrifuge, what
separates liquid from the blood products,
and atoms from the elements: I was a dry
heat, the best kind, I consumed brush
and hills and I lurked in crevices; I was
the canyon’s worst nightmare although
no one knew where that canyon was. I
didn’t care who knewit, who remembered it:
I was a cell that germinates its own
cell, asexual and redundant. We all
live in a house on fire, that’s what
the poet said, although I was raised
in it; and if the records burn the history
lives on even if we become trees
and try to get out of it.




The sky couldn’t have been like that
before Charles Manson, all roil and
tempera, grease and gauze, before
they dumped white people’s wallets
in black neighborhoods, and deposited
themselves in rich people’s houses
without slipping away with the relative
profits. No one was supposed to know
about that, except for the future’s most
arrogant college students. The brush
couldn’t have contained that kind of a
controlled burn then, before Manson’s
children learned how to handle the long-
form interrogations, with the uncomfortable
pauses between the truncated sentences.
I myself was too young to reproduce in
my drawings the lamination that separates
human from air, so all my art had blue skies
that hung like stalled curtains, even when
I drew the hottest days, when temperature
spread into our luck and intellect. That was
long before I had seen my first fetus, Sharon
Tate’s upside down and rendered in charcoal
by the courtroom artist. The newsman said
the jury was trying to figure out if the Mansons
were guilty of killing one person, or two
the night the squat knife descended, and I
was transfixed until the test pattern replaced
the people, and the old Indian in the center
frightened me more than Charles Manson did,
for he knew my stare was dead, and my curiosity
was only gratuitous.



Miss Sasaki Is Dead

(For Jonathan Mann)

A premium, a prude, an older
miss named for a month of
floral arrangements for other
brides, plums and cherries felled
in their prime, and hidden among
the pussy willows. Pouring tea
for an audience, or gilding paper
orchids: these were once the
exclusive arts of men, although
numbers demand women fill
in, making it all torpid and foreign.
Their skin turns this way, like
the flesh of petals left with only
desert to drink, a canvas for ink
and mistakes, in dust conscripted
out of scrub and mountains
promising to house, to protect,
to punish and to segregate.

Out of the robe and pajamas and
into the shift dress with darts, a
pant suit with seams and hems
All in the same direction, to serve
the same theorem: as the body
ages, the coverlet must always
appear immaculate. It’s an experiment,
a scientific bet, so long and settled
it is no longer objective but biblical,
a tale of origins lost in the census
and deportation documents. Now
to the place where Americans go
where there is no other place to be
famous: no Hawaii, no Los Angeles,
no bells or syllables to be counted
on a tray of beads as if they were
apparitions, visual crutches for
budding mathematicians. The sun,
the source, is a rising red trademark
there, and it burns the retinas
only on the days of the final eclipses.



Jane Rosenberg LaForge is the author of an experimental memoir, “An Unsuitable Princess: A True Fantasy/A Fantastical Memoir” (Jaded Ibis Press 2014) and a full-length poetry collection, “With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women” (The Aldrich Press 2012). More information is available through my web site,

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