Two Chairs

Ohne, ohne, ohne.
The word sits high in the back
of a hallow throat,
a halo of sorts,
and it means “without.”

Oh no, oh no, oh no.


Ohne, ohne, ohne.

It sits high in the back,
like a rocking chair, lulling
to and fro as slight as a hair.

You aren’t there
You aren’t there
You aren’t there where once you were

So it does not matter mit or with
I thought for always we would sit.



For some, hopes hang strong on
mason jars and wedding gowns,
on gleaming marble counter tops.

But all I need’s book, bed, and dog,
and doors that do not need their lock.

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What kind of a mixed-up expression
is “A Confession of Love” anyway?
Love confessed isn’t love, okay:
Love lives guiltless, lacking guile–
yet you let “love” walk down the aisle.

So do you love, or do you confess me?
I can’t forgive what can’t be blessed.


Land of selective memory,
(remember slavery?!)
and nation of misrepresentation,
of trial and error and trial errors,
freest place you’ll ever find
that has an electric chair.

America is your friend who
makes fun of everyone else
and can’t take a joke about himself,
who pouts when he loses
and flips the Monopoly board
when you’re close to winning.

I lived abroad a while,
and people liked to say
you’re American, Lauren,
How Do You Feel About That?
As if I must have a way of
thinking about something I
had to be told I was
(personally, I was born a person.)

It’s a big country, I said,
and I’d like to see you try to get
everyone in your little one
to agree on anything –
let alone democracy.
What democracy is
is what makes it hard to do
when it’s humans who
are running it.

For all that, though, it’s a
Great Wide Land with a
Great Wide Soul.
Steinbeck grew up from it,
And so did Twain and so too Millay
(God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart all day)
But Whitman really captured
the Yankeest of attitudes:


I love you, Americaland,
limitless in possibility
limitless in contradiction.
Land that sometimes
keeps its promises.

Land where to publish
a poem like this
means I cannot run for office.



It’s going to be so easy to talk to him. So easy that I imagine I won’t have to think about what to say or how it’s going to sound when I do say it the way I do with most people.


He won’t,



twist my words because it’s fun to do.


He takes me seriously when I am serious. He knows when to rib me and when to hug me.

He respects what I have to say and I can tell my words sink into him like candles on a cake and not like an anvil in water.


That means it’s easy for my ideas to shine on him — all the little points of light that are the me I made up flicker at once, merrily merrily happy knowing that he wouldn’t blow them out for all the selfish wishes in the world.


On top of that, he doesn’t make me defend my slight contradictions. The contradictions are what we share most of all.


He knows he’s not perfect–but he

tries, and so do I.


In the end, he doesn’t need a suit of armor around his heart or a sword at his side.

He needs wrapping paper,

and Scotch tape,

and a bow couldn’t hurt

and he knows it.


My Bett und Breakfast in Berlin

In the mornings your father calls me a

Baby dinosaur because I can’t

Get up early–

Not even for German bread–

Without a healthy growl.

And forget that bowl of Käse too; left so much so

That you go to Humboldt Uni ohne me,

And I’m left lonely in your parents’ flat

Listening only to the Croat bodyguard

That daylights as a maid as he

Takes the uneaten Essen off the Tisch

and sighs under his wifebeater at the

Blumen in the yard below.