Three Poems by Amy Newman


Unconditional love is a long hallway.
The doors at each end are shut very tight.
The moon’s love for the earth is distant but always.

The rooms between what we say and the way
we hurt flash up, combust in sparks, ignite.
Unconditional love is a long hallway.

The lover asked me to call out the ways
I loved him, in the middle of the night.
The moon’s love for the earth is distant but always,

I’d whisper, touching his heart’s spillway,
and then we’d fuck. And then we’d fight.
(Unconditional love.) Is a long hallway

long enough? You can run far, castaway;
I let you out like the string on a kite.
The moon’s love for the earth is distant, but—. Always,

I think of you, always you are ablaze.
You’ll come to ash in your heat, in your light.
Unconditional love is a long hallway.
The moon’s love for the earth is distant but always.

You Should Put a Donkey in Your Poem

You should put a donkey in your poem
and it will get probably the job done.
It will carry the stones that were in the way
up the hill, and it might stop now and then,
but the stones—which are now at the bottom of the hill
will be carried and will arrive.

I mean a donkey like the donkey of Auden’s Ischia,
the donkey who will lean against a wall
striped with sun. Now I see the donkey has eyelashes
dark and wet and somehow arresting.
It will accept its fate, this animal.
It doesn’t distract with ornament.

And I can imagine it would be devout.
Such a donkey is not beautiful but it is efficient.
By being in the narrative, it makes me think
of the streets of Ischia, in the sun, a place
where a useful, solid animal,
who must mean well, can try to fix my poem,

can labor and still be charming. I see things:
donkey-brown eyes, a stout body leaning,
with an imaginary woven basket filled with stones.
I was not heading this way, but now I think
this is beautiful to imagine, the donkey and Ischia.
I get sentimental. This is one of the biggest problems with poetry.


A bee has drowned in the birdbath overnight.
There have been several there,
abdomens shivering as they sip
in what looks like pleasure,
in a momentary stay of that old ache.

Yes I dipped in a leaf and tried to save it.
But this one had been overnight,
and no one there to see, and just a bee,
drawn by need, a tiny thing,
with tiny nerves and a brain—

no more consequential than crumb—
a piece of the whole—
It would be ridiculous to think of how similar—
how cruel desire. Doves spin above in elegance,
land with crimson feet in the shade.

Amy Newman is the author of, most recently, Howl (dancing girl press, 2019), and On This Day in Poetry History (Persea Books, 2016). Her poems and essays have appeared in journals including Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, Hotel Amerika, and in anthologies including The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries, The Rose Metal Press Field Guide To Prose Poetry, and The Hide-and-Seek Muse. Her translations of Antonia Pozzi’s poetry appeared here in Cagibi, in Issue 2 April 2018. She is a Board of Trustees Professor in the Department of English at Northern Illinois University.

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Issue 5

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