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OED Poems.



Widdershins, (n.) counter-clockwise; to do anything backwards.

For Catherine Kasper, in memoriam

There is the hero who struggles east
widdershins to free the dawn…
he must struggle alone toward the pyres of Day.

—Robert Duncan


I woke up yesterday thinking “Wonder Twins,”
that old cartoon in which the heroes are brother
and sister with rings that when pressed together
turn them into weight of an iceberg, speed of an eagle.

The Twins’ talent for solutions was never obvious.
No primary gift of flight or fin. No magic lasso or gadget.
Protean, the slipperiness of gods.



When we used to spin
in summer yards we
learned we could change

the world by dizzying
ourselves. Early

in movement, blue rush
then green. Collapsing
self to place. Laughter

to centrifuge
of sky. Dervishes
of the lawn, before

knowledge, before thought.



Turn turtle
what British
sailors called
capsized ships,
anything flipped
upside-down, topsy-
turvy, arsy-versy,
inverted. Retains
the profane, connotes
confusion. The root
meaning of awkward
in Old English—
now what the kids
name the new cool.



Those giant
tortoises could live
on their backs
a year without food
below in the holds
while at sea.
Shells that floated
them through the Humboldt
from mainland to island,
century to century,
turned them:
water and oil and soup.

L’ écume, (French, n.) scum, froth, foam

For Caroline

Sous les paves, la plage!
(The beach is under the cobblestones!)


In the book
L’Écume des jours
flowers are
the cure
and the disease.



When Vian finished L’Écume,
he signed and dated it:
Memphis, March 8, 1946

and Davenport, Iowa, March 10th
(the birthplace of Bix Beiderbecke).

He dated the introduction
March 10th, New Orleans.

No laws of physics stop the mental
traveller from being
in many places and times at once.



All of this
reminding me

that Chaucer
used “sad”

in both its

sated, melancholy

LEA GRAHAM is the author of two poetry collections, From the Hotel Vernon (Salmon Press, 2019) and Hough & Helix & Where & Here & You, You, You (No Tell Books, 2011); a fine press book, Murmurations (Hot Tomato Press, 2020), and three chapbooks, Spell to Spell (above/ground Press, 2018), This End of the World: Notes to Robert Kroetsch (Apt. 9 Press, 2016) and Calendar Girls (above/ground Press, 2006). She is the editor of an anthology of critical essays: From the Word to the Place: The Work of Michael Anania (MadHat Press, 2022). She won the Michelle Boisseau Poetry Prize in 2022.

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