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Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in TESOL, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now anatomizing the prosody of E. A. Robinson’s sonnets for his dissertation at Amerika Institut of LMU Munich, where also he edits a poetry weekly. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor of Review of International American Studies.


February 10

by Marilyn Hacker

Inarticulate, the dream subsides in growls.
Nothing as human as clean sentences.
Nothing as cleansing as repentance.  Was
some life left folded into plush blue towels
and 200-plus thread all-cotton sheets
like a housewifely sachet of lavender?
I've learned the answer or I haven't, or
the question balances, repeats, repeats
day after night into the cotton's cool
and solitary folds, the resurrected
light I look into with unprotected
eyes.  Sometimes the sky is beautiful.
Sometimes despair is as habitual
as walking in the morning to the train
station to be in class on time, as plain
yogurt, as grapefruit juice, steady and dull
as the seventeenth hour of a migraine
all evening long, still with me when I wake.
And don't I often trigger a headache
refilling glass on solo glass of wine?
Isn't there something clearer about pain
than year-old grief gone tarnished with its dull
blade, with its blotched skin, with its bad smell?
The dusk recedes again, or afternoon
extends itself, life measured against light:
how new, how much repeated, for how long,
whether, and how profoundly, I was wrong,
whether, in what ignorance, I was right.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

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