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Sample Poems by Luray Gross



At the Museum of Tolerance

There are touchscreen computers
and levers to flip, a video
that features Spain’s unrelenting
Inquisitor-general.

Walk the dark passageway
to the Whisper Wall.
Sit a while
in the Genocide Theater.

Follow the sound and light cues
past the larger-than-life Nazi tableau
to a damp bare room just like those
that filled with cyanide gas.

When they let you out,
take time to read the letters
Anne and Margot Frank sent
to their penpals in Iowa.

Nearby, a Torah scroll,
cut and stretched, forms
the face of a tambourine.
Imagine the home

in which the tambourine jangled.
The hands—so like your own—
beating out a rhythm
at the close of any ordinary day.
 



An Answer to Your Question

A well that never goes dry
fed by water that fell
before my father was born
before my mother lay
in the crook of her mother’s elbow

Water that fell from clouds
that blew up in the west
grew heavy over the land
and opened their fists
releasing the rain

that splatters stones
and drips off leaves,
channeled by gravity
and the leniency of sand and loam

Water that hides her face
from the rising sun
spreading in darkness
insinuating itself among stones

A beam of light
cuts the water’s face
like a sword of fire

The rope breaks
The cup shatters
On a ladder of words
the thirsting spirit descends
 



A Kind of Luck


The unlucky have their own kind of luck.
They show me what is is to be happy
sitting here in early March sun.

The dogs inside bark once, twice--
desultory remarks at my desertion.
I am writing as though nothing could be easier.
 
Easy to be a buddha spark today
drinking cool water near the holly tree,
listening to the exclamatory grackles.

Our gray cat brushes past my arm, then repairs
to the driveway to roll in wood chips and dust.
Tree after tree we’ve turned into smoke and ash.

I am waiting for fusion, waiting for us
to unleash force through joining
rather than breaking apart.

The cat rolls, builds up static. Her electric meow
scolds my hands for ignoring her.
Her green eyes are the eyes of a saint.

For hundreds of years, the monk who
illuminated them has slept in Irish peat and sand.
He scorned the saint, he loved her.

Her bodice he painted kermes red, her skirt lapis blue.
He gave her a girdle of gold for her waist,
another to hover just above

her startled head. At night, the monk lay down
and felt her quick pulse throbbing
in his neck, his groin.
 
He touched her body and it crumbled.