William Rivera

Five Panties on the Clothesline

Owahu Agricultural Technical School, Ghana, 2006


Five panties on the clothesline flutter,

from two-year old to ancient auntie. 

I stop to frame what artlessly entices,

undies shining hot in sunlight pink.


My escort questions why I stare:

"What can it please the man from overseas

those panties in the breeze?"

Therein hangs a tale, mine, not theirs,

call it fetish or predilection,

it's not the breasts I hold as beauty

but what's behind Aphrodite's Kallipygos,

the anasyrma gesture, caught looking

back that moment

the question as if  to ask "Am I perfect?"

(And she is divine!)


The clothesline sequence touches on expectation, not mine,

theirs, though not the ones seen through:

love's laborers who made it to the well-known

shore, but those, so tiny, on the edge of hopes,

their baby odysseys of make-believe.


I see myself in each of these, the vert gallant,

the lover's tease, a moment in a fantasy,

a stranger's view of panties in the breeze.

Frozen Naked

             at the Metropolitan Museum

This is winter

a naked-woman with a shawl,

head and breasts sculpture-bare or nearly. 


And beauty's escape from violence,

she's a vine entwined in the telling since long ago:

a laurel leap from escapee to tree. 


There is no cure for what's revealed.

Art's empathy pours out in hot pursuit,

figures seen in crowded space


in solid metaphors unlike these abstract

words lined up in stanzas also wrapped

against the cold, escaping into living vines,


places where we tear off clothes, step out

into the open, twist into self's other,

run in space, frozen naked.

W.M. Rivera's most recent collection of poems is a chapbook titled The Living Clock from Finishing Line Press (2013).  His full-length collection, Buried in the Mind's Backyard (BrickHouse Books, 2011), has a cover print by Miguel Conde, one of Spain's prominent artists, and is available from Itascabooks.com and Amazon.  Born in New Orleans, he began publishing poetry in the 1950s. His early poetry appeared under the names William Rivera and William McLeod Rivera in The Nation, Prairie Schooner, the Kenyon Review, and The New Laurel Review among other publications. Recent poems have appeared in the California Quarterly, Gargoyle, Ghazal, and Broome Review. His first book of poems, The End of Legend's String, was published in 1960 and illustrated by Mexican artist, Jose Luis Cuevas. Rivera's professional activities in agricultural development have taken him to more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Retired from the University of Maryland, he has only recently returned to poetry.



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Indran Amirthanayagam

Nan Becker

C. Wade Bentley

Gigi Bradford on Hailey Leithauser

Patricia Davis

Stephen Devereux

Gail Rudd Entrekin

C.M. Foltz

Anton Frost

Paul Grayson

Hedy Habra

Patricia L. Hamilton

Maryanne Hannan on Suzette Marie Bishop

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David McAleavey on Terence Winch

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George Moore

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Barry North

Andrew Oerke

Al Ortolani

Jef Otte

William Page

Rebecca Parson

Beth Paulson

Patric Pepper

Simon Perchik

Heddy Reid

Oliver Rice

William Rivera

Joseph Saling

Dave Seter

Felicity Sheehy

Robert Joe Stout

Paul Tayyar

Jennifer Wallace

Robert Wexelblatt

Anne Harding Woodworth on Jody Bolz

Katherine E. Young

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