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.