Don Berger

Numbered Poem


I remember the time when no one was writing back,
It was literally yesterday after all.
It had started to snow, for the first time all year,
But already it felt like the old snow, with potential to oxidize.

We played like we were defeated, I mean the
Ground at one point left us.


Words I don't use,
That I remember
Telling you, strange
Not to have to be quiet there.


Something I didn't mean grew into this sad pen somehow,
The day when illness decides for you:  
It might just be more tight for the weakness.

It's a beautiful day I said.  
Thank you, she said, bagging what would be my muffin
In the way a queen hides her crown


The gate shut
You want to go in by,
Perfectly three bags of leaves
Take power against the wall.


The zebra burps,
The elk roars
Like a lion.


If your handwriting is illegible,
College professors will refuse
To read your papers,

Bits of what I myself
Would have said
Had I not been me.


In 1990 he lag-bolted a set of deer antlers to a vintage 60's Packers helmet.
He carried Chicago to the world.  
Here's his best piece so far.
And so he takes it, disappears with it.


A deer has a tiny deer inside it,
And a man has a tiny man
Inside it, of yellow foam.

A bug, I'm not sure which,
Comes up out of the grass
And holds you, finally,
For a change, where science

Is, not active or passive,
Just there.


A hot peace (wind-assisted)
Does something to where I'll settle,
What I look like,
And who I've become.


An elbow rubbing the white cotton arm of the couch,
When you pushed a button the head of the cardinal
Or robin twisted after the notes.


The show isn't called Who Wants to Get Five Dollars, Bagging Groceries?
Your crutch is vibrating.
Like someone afraid of what difference
Small talk is going to make.

Don Berger's poems and prose have appeared in The New Republic, Slate, Conjunctions, Colorado Review, Ironwood, The Iowa Review, The Massachusetts Review, and other magazines including some from Berlin, Leipzig, and Budapest.  Quality Hill, his first book, was published by Lost Roads Publishers (editors C.D. Wright and Forrest Gander).  A bilingual edition of a second collection, The Long Time, is close to being accepted by Thedel von Wallmoden (Wallstein Verlag) in Erlangen, Germany.  For the past eighteen years he's taught writing and literature at the University of Maryland and, for the past ten years, also at Montgomery College.



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