Joyce Carol Oates

J
Joyce Carol Oates
The Blessing
Barefoot daring
to walk
amid
the thrashing eye-glitter
of  what remains
when the tide
retreats
we ask ourselves
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That Other
They laughed, but no. You
don’t remember that.

What you think you remember—
it wasn’t that.

Yes—you remember
some things. And
some things did
happen. Except not
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Little Albert, 1920
I was Little Albert.
Nine months old in the famous film.
In a white cotton nightie, on a lab
table sitting upright
facing a camera.
Remember me? Sure.
You do.

First, you saw that I was a “curious” baby.
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The First Room
In every dream of a room
the first room intrudes.
No matter the years, the tears dried
and forgotten, it is the skeleton
of the first that protrudes.
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36
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Sinkholes
take you where
you don’t want to go.

Where you’d been
and had passed smilingly through,
and were alive. Then.
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Poetry Is the Gnomic Utterance from Which the Soul Springs, Fluttering
At the podium
measured and grave as a metronome
the (white, male) poet with bald-
gleaming head broods in gnom-
ic syllables on the death
of 12-year-old (black, male) Tamir Rice
shot in a park
by a Cleveland police officer
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Too Young to Marry but Not Too Young to Die
Drowned together in his car in Lake Chippewa.
It was a bright cold starry night on Lake Chippewa.
Lake Chippewa was a “living” lake then,
though soon afterward it would choke and die.

In the bright cold morning after we could spy
them only through a patch of ice brushed clear of snow.
Scarcely three feet below,
they were oblivious of us.
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An Age of Miracles
He walked to the window
stared down twenty stories to the street
gaseous and dizzy as a swamp
not visible at this height
but there had been a street down there
and he knew

It came with the apartment
and the guarded foyers and halls
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25
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Occult
the blood-smear across the knuckles:
painless, inexplicable.
once you discover it pain will begin,
in miniature.
never will you learn what caused it.
you forget it.

the telephone answered on the twelfth ring:
silence without breath, cunning, stark.
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The Suicide
didn't thank
didn't wave goodbye
didn't flutter the air with kisses
a mound of gifts unwrapped
bed unmade
no appetite

always elsewhere

though it was raining elsewhere
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Women Whose Lives are Food, Men Whose Lives are Money
Mid-morning Monday she is staring
peaceful as the rain in that shallow back yard
she wears flannel bedroom slippers
she is sipping coffee
she is thinking—
—gazing at the weedy bumpy yard
at the faces beginning to take shape
in the wavy mud
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