Four Poems by Cynthia Cruz



At dawn, after they drove me

by emergency to the hospital, or

the mansion on the outskirts of the city.

Through the bleached fields

and positioned on the silver hillside.

To be alone doesn’t hurt that much

he wrote, in that poem

he wrote before he died.

After Trakl, and the translations of his writings

in which he writes of his own alienation.

Sebastian in Dream and his mother’s compulsions:

filling their Viennese home

so that there is no room left

for her children. In a dream,

the wanderer goes. My father,

when I was small, promised me

a shetland pony for my courage

after we moved, again. But then,

we moved again. From city to city.

Nomads, with no home. To live inside

one’s mind, is its own locked hotel room,

its own phantasm and cell. Its own

strange poem. Genet in his prisons,

loving the men, tending to them.

Strangers in hotel rooms reading my tarot,

begging me to touch them.

In Berlin and in Warsaw,

dreaming in Latin, with my hands.




In the black and white film still

from Chantal Akerman’s film,

Women from Antwerp in November

her face is tilted as if asking.

And her skin, above the lips,

is moist with sweat.

In the dream from which

I wake and can not sleep,

you are there with me.

Your kindness, an aura

seeping through the film

of the dream. And the rich

substance I wake encased in.

I have started taking photographs

of my own face

in an attempt to capture

the quality without language

I lost. Every morning

I record entries and snapshots

in a small black canvas binder

as if I might

be able somehow to find it,

and bring it back.

In photographs I always appear

ugly, who I am, hidden

beneath a cruel and sudden mask.

But in the small hours

I spent with you,

I was returned to myself.

And it was from that precarious place,

minute and near invisible,

that I was able to set

finally, everything down,

and begin my life again.



But whose voice will enter

and what will I do

with that brutal but beautiful music.

In the city, from my hotel window

I can see the elements and trace.

Structures constructed to protect the mind

and the gorgeous culture of the body.

In the park nearby, at dusk.

With plastic transistor radio

and magnetic apparatus,

so small they fit into the palm

of my hand.




In the hotel room are stacks of magazines

and texts on photography, platters of food

and snapshots of the black and white photographs

in the montage work of the Romanian artist

whose work documents the space between.

I want to know that language.

I want to live inside it.

And I want my body

to lead me, not the mind.

But the body, it wants

to devour everything.

For instance, last night I swallowed

chocolate after chocolate

inside the hotel tub, while reading.

What the body wants

and the mind does not.

But the mind, it will not quit.

And still, I cannot stop

feeding it. Or the body,

its animal-like desire,

its dumb and blind

collisions, with everything.


Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

About the author

Cynthia Cruz is the author of Wunderkammer (Four Way Books, 2014), The Glimmering Room (Four Way Books, 2012), and Ruin (Alice James, 2006).She has published poems in numerous literary journals and magazines including the New YorkerKenyon Review, the Paris Review, and the Boston Review, and in anthologies including Isn't it Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger Poets (2004), and The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (2004). She is the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and a Hodder fellowship from Princeton University.
Cruz teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She has previously taught at the Juilliard School, Fordham University, the Rutgers-Newark MFA Program and Eugene Lang College. Born in Germany, Cruz grew up in northern California, where she earned her BA at Mills College, her MFA in Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and her MFA in Art Writing & Criticism at the School of Visual Arts. She and has published essays, interviews, book and art reviews in the LA Review of BooksHyperallergicGuernicaThe American Poetry Review, and The Rumpus. She lives in Brooklyn.

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