In these sparkling poems, Diane Lockward takes life as it comes and finds nourishment in it all: succulence of the peach, redolence of the pear, the “green grape of sorrow.” I love these poems for their craft, sensuality and energy.  Like high-wire acts of language and imagination, they almost leap in the air and come down again on the wire, balancing between witty and dark, personal and invented, idea and emotion.
                      —Patricia Fargnoli, former Poet Laureate of New Hampshire

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Sample Poems


It was always linguini between us.
Linguini with white sauce, or
red sauce, sauce with basil snatched
from the garden, oregano rubbed between
our palms, a single bay leaf adrift amidst
plum tomatoes. Linguini with meatballs,
sausage, a side of brascioli. Like lovers
trying positions, we enjoyed it every way
we could—artichokes, mushrooms, little
neck clams, mussels, and calamari—linguini
twining and braiding us each to each.
Linguini knew of the kisses, the smooches,
the molti baci. It was never spaghetti
between us, not cappellini, nor farfalle,
vermicelli, pappardelle, fettucini, perciatelli,
or even tagliarini. Linguini we stabbed, pitched,
and twirled on forks, spun round and round
on silver spoons. Long, smooth, and always
al dente. In dark trattorias, we broke crusty panera,
toasted each other—La dolce vita!—and sipped
Amarone, wrapped ourselves in linguini,
briskly boiled, lightly oiled, salted, and lavished
with sauce. Bellissimo, paradisio, belle gente!
Linguini witnessed our slurping, pulling, and
sucking, our unraveling and raveling, chins
glistening, napkins tucked like bibs in collars,
linguini stuck to lips, hips, and bellies, cheeks
flecked with formaggio—parmesan, romano,
and shaved pecorino—strands of linguini flung
around our necks like two fine silk scarves.

                    —first published in Poet Lore
                    —featured on The Writer's Almanac 2.20.09 


The heart wants what the heart wants,
and what it wants is fire.
My friend Roz, six months into a relationship
with a seemly man, dumps him
and says, There’s no fireworks.
Roz wants the full-scale Grucci display—
her lover a licensed pyrotechnician,
Roman candles manually fired,
multi-color scenes, a barrage
of illuminations, the sky pulsing,
and always the Grand Finale.

Think of that woman in Colorado,
a forest ranger, who goes into the woods,
a letter from her estranged husband
clutched in her fist, a firestorm in her heart.
She reads the letter one last time,
strikes a match and kindles his words,
watches them shrivel.
Think of the entire forest in flames,
the blaze billowing and consuming,
trees surrendering to fire,
skeletons of timber, and charred remains.

And now I learn that silicone in the breasts
must be excised before cremation
or it blows up, liquefying to a dangerous substance,
destroying the crematorium.
I’d like to have breasts like that—
round and full, earth-tipped and tilted
heavenward, the kind that ignite and explode.
I’d like my breasts to burst into flame,
spreading like wildfire,
tongues of scarlet licking the walls.
I’d like breasts just that white-hot
as once they were under the touch
of my lover, so recently departed.
I’d like to burn the crematorium down.

                     —first published in Prairie Schooner

                     —rpt. Alhambra Poetry Calendar 2007 
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