Kathleen Ossip

Romantic Depot
New Poems From the USA


“Where knock is open wide,”
where tenement’s an inn in May,
where all our wars are Swiss,
I walked into the world one day.

Move over please time’s up.
(Barbiturate violas cued.)
To write or to erase?
The world was in a bloody mood.

Harsh and subtle rhymes,
fan fiction off the Internet,
apocalyptic squibs?
Text looked like a sucker’s bet.

The arbors, the bare sky
offended me aesthetically.
I tried to parse the world,
pelted with eternity.

I asked for something else:
a message sweet, sincere, and tough,
a fall that didn’t die.
Absorption: was it joy enough?

“Success and failure” are
not quite the same as “dead and gone.”
What wants to happen can’t.
The world tore itself up at dawn,

and no one understood:
We shouldn’t live until we’ve died.
The grievances accrued
with cash and pity at their side.

A surface and a depth
laid open all experience.
Out in the world I feared
the unintended consequence.

The world’s a thing for tears.
The world’s the lining of my skin.
The world’s amok. The world’s
a lanyard I am plaited in.

So I sized up the world—
the way it interrupts itself---
and wondered if I told
the story only to myself.