Alice B. Fogel

Nine Out of Ten Things

She knows you have a thousand edges

& only one exit. In this way

you're like the river constantly

shifting as it sharpens the rocks it cleaves

seeking sea & never cleaves to. It's true

that without discipline we'd devour

everything never stop turning

our eyes away from the torn out hearts.

Like you she can pass through

imaginary cities but that doesn't make her

an atlas doesn't allow her to breathe

salt & ash. You looked so gray

on that overcast day

when you laid out your equation

gracing space on either side

of the equals sign. The tenth thing

goes on returning again

& again. In this way it's like time

travel a neverending math a map

without coordinates in your actual bed.

It glints with silt & blood. Still

you were so kind.

You let her keep her fatal flaw unknown

by offering up your own. So love

in the end a far ocean might still exist.

On the Question of Reality

Ockham remembers himself

in the dark, looking up at a star.

Struck, he imagines God

having extinguished the star

but not his vision of it in the eye

or the sky. By his stars,

he couldn't know in 1321 the fact

that at the speed of light from stars

we do see what is nonexistent: star

light blown out by the breath

of God? But it was not the stars

that concerned him. It was

the matter of deception: the star

God allows us to believe

exists in the world, or the star

we deceive ourselves into seeing?

Alice B Fogel served as the New Hampshire poet laureate from 2104 through 2019, instituting a New Hampshire Youth Poet Laureate, among other projects. Her latest book is A Doubtful House. Interval: Poems Based on Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” won the Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature and the 2016 New Hampshire Literary Award in Poetry, & her third book, Be That Empty, was a national poetry bestseller. She is also the author of Strange Terrain, on how to appreciate poetry without necessarily “getting” it. Nominated for Best of the Web & twelve times for the Pushcart, she has been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, & her poems have appeared in many journals & anthologies, including Best American Poetry, Spillway, Hotel Amerika, The Inflectionist, and DIAGRAM. She works one-on-one with students with learning differences at Landmark College, and hikes mountains whenever possible.

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