The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2019

All Issues
OCT 2019 Issue


Everything I Want

The movies give me everything I could ever want,
I guess. But it takes them far too long—two hours
is too long to have to wait for love.

The ones where people die are sad,
a heavy modern business being
the scenes in which the blood runs out

and spurts. And I cover my face with my hands
as I did when I went to the drive-in and watched
The Howling—only the naked parts, not the death scenes.

But I hate the way they give it to me,
everything I want. Everything I want in love
and I can’t feel a thing.

I never knew it could be so predictable
when I was young. I thought
each cinematic decision was real

as the heart of a lover
who hasn’t a clue how to
how to
and how to—I do not know

how to. I only want what is the best
thing for me—not in mind or in soul
but in narrative style, that is

I want to live it, I do want to be it
I don’t want to cry for it
nor do I want the extreme,

and that: to die. I just want to live live live
and watch all the paleness and light pass
right through me

with someone else watching it happen.
So ghastly, I know, but I do think of love
much more often than I think of

anything else. It helps me to concentrate
on life. It helps me to avoid thinking about
banality. It is such a heightened banality

(murder and mayhem being other things boring),
and thus I can comfort myself with its
fanciful gratitude when I pretend

that I could have the love, all the love in the world!
And I could get it from you! If only I could
but I don’t think I can.


I think of you, but that I’ll call
The predilection of my heart to swell
When I leave you’ll feel much better
And I’m sure that the world will come
Quickly and painlessly to an end.
I’ll balance you up on my shoulders—
The windows will open and close—
I will ask them for money, for old bits of scrap
I will call out the names of the plague
Which will be forlornness, loss, suffering
Because time is the one thing I cannot recover
The moment is passed and you over my shoulder will
Only be yet one more burden of love
And I’ll try to find somebody/anyone else and I’ll
Look for a face in the crowd full of beggars
But I’ll only feel you there, a dead-weight upon me
And I’ll try to revive you, I’ll slap you and hit you!
But you won’t wake up, you’ll just lie there,
A lazy, un-acting, and foolish man!
And I’ll hold a watch and so will you,
And the watches will keep the same time
And no one will have any
Sympathy for us

I Said Yes

The tactful must be telling or
He would have found the words—
He felt he’d known and would have some
She’d looked and to distract him—
Intended just like listening
To that, the silence more discursive—
What the more that his rendition,
What then and to look at all

She said but that the known was tension
On the way they went, she said,
It’s nice to have an audience, and
Constancy, he swayed her own
Attention had him, hers, not his,
The lonely then that I had had him,
He does not descend, I thought,
That even so I tremble

He does not, though he’s not prepared,
More than that I swear not touching
Asked me during speaking parts
Remember what we longed for,
Hardly all of us, but I’ve done worse,
An impress that I meant to do, before the duty
Was a fact, he thought, not like I love her
But I notice well enough to try

Under the Clap of a Bell

Sensations are now
Drowned or hung

I cannot well assist
This sensation out better

I’m common
I can’t be too much
I hurry to think of you
Effusive, but

To think you are also a good one
Though I am one

The sensation of drowning
But more to the purpose

You big bell
You’re hanging
Which lately
I’ve come to adore

It is best for a bell
To drown out

Not effusive
Although tolling


Katy Lederer

Katy Lederer is the author of three books of poems and a family memoir. Her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared most recently in Train, Bomb Cyclone, the New York Times, The Recluse, and on n+1 online, where she writes regularly about energy and climate change. Her fourth poetry book, The Engineers, is forthcoming on Solid Objects Press.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2019

All Issues