Five New Poems

November 11, 2015  By Cynthia Cruz

Inescapably, Cynthia Cruz’s poems are otherworldly visitations. Yet upon closer inspection, all of their ingredients eerily bear the markings of this world, not another one, though the poems in these new sequences have obsessive titles pointing to the dead, both as an ominous totalizing category as well as a singular, specific voice that the speaker keeps conjuring into obscure influence. One feels these poems have their part not so much in pagan celebration as in a black mass. The poems are spectral rituals where objects of food and clothing, chemical compounds and a constantly shifting, disfigured sense of place holds hands quietly. I marvel at the slight ripples and torn seams of these short, yet bottomless lyrics for their anomalous formal choices: the calming turn between long and short breath lines; the occasional discontinuation of punctuation; the overall stillness of elongated lines as if consciousness has been arrested. In Duras: The Flock, she writes “Duras is part of a flock of voices: Duras, Lispector, Cixous, Bachmann.” No other poet I know is as capable as Cruz is of making such uncanny company among such modern female visionaries, but these poems prove to me that this poet—silently communing, warping the ordinary—herself is one.  

—Adam Fitzgerald, Poetry Editor





Walnut bread
Fresh milk, and silver
Tins of German chocolate.


Books in piles and letters from father
Before he went blind.


Old ripped Greek
Blankets for the two cats.


It isn’t much.


But it is Enough.






Drink tap water only in large cities.


Drink boiled water and thinned tea.


It is not advisable
Except in hotels.


Take tablets of Resochin Bayer.


Then let it sit
For ten minutes
In potassium permanganate.


Change sweat-soaked underwear.
Wash once a day with soap.


Don’t shower more than three times a day
Using one part mercuric chloride pre thousand.


When possible, peel fresh fruit. When not, wash with soap.





The word, Duras, another word, not hers.


Donnadieu, her surname. Duras, the name of her father’s village. She renames herself. Quiet death.


“It’s not that you have to achieve anything, it’s that you have to get away from where you are.”


Duras, Duras. The name becomes her.






Duras is part of a flock of voices: Duras, Lispector, Cixous, Bachmann. Duras is high priestess. She is also the bottom rung. This is how the flock works: everyone on top, everyone on bottom. All are one in the flock.


These ladies with smeared lipstick and torn hosiery. I find my place among them; I join the end of the queue, this parade of wrong voices. I find my place and I join them.


No shame, we swallow the shame and the shame becomes us. It is part of us now, not something to cut off or be rid of


Our words are tiny pills or bullets, each one packed with memory, packed with a multitude of meaning.


Our words are free of grammar and syntax. Our pages, filled with holes so that the others may join us. We are dumb as children. Curiosity, the thread that pulls us.


I find my place at the end of the line.
And I join them.






The soft machinery of photographs.


Memories of inherited sorrow, or questions, lost.


A summer of wool and excrement.


Rumors, inside the little black plastic box.


I hear his voice: an animal, a doll


Inside the puppet show.


Shit in a cardboard box. Nothing,
Just the matter of loss and dislocation.

Cynthia Cruz
Cynthia Cruz
Cynthia Cruz is the author of six collections of poems and a volume of critical essays. She has published poems in numerous literary journals and magazines including The New Yorker, Kenyon Review, The Paris Review, BOMB, and The Boston Review.

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