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Ryan G. Van Cleave
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Books/Chapbooks 2

has poems published or forthcoming in The Harvard Review, Iowa Review, and Ontario Review. His most recent books include a poetry collection, Say Hello (Pecan Grove Press, 2001), an anthology, Like Thunder: Poets Respond to Violence in America (University of Iowa Press, 2002) and a creative writing textbook, Contemporary American Poetry: Behind the Scenes (Allyn and Bacon/Longman, 2003) 

A Brother Grimm Exposes the Truth
 
This plastic nurser filled with lemoned water is mine,
as are the seaweed-colored contact lenses.
 
Beside my handsome brother, I am a puppet, a plaything;
around women, my jaws clack shut, dusk upoon the horizon.
 
The perfect arc of my life is as weather mounting---
first gray, then bleak, then a deluge of hopeless black.
 
Dear wolf, if you lean way back, you can almost see
the stars announcing my death. They are white
 
and soft like the virgin neck of a swan. Bite deep, quick.
 
                                                                                         From Say Hello
 
 
 
James Tate
 
I am trying to pry open
the tunnel of years between us
like a cork from bottle,
the mad turnip moon
right out of the sky.
 
If this trick works,
I will hang
bats from the roof
of my mouth,
dance like a tin can
with a firecracker engine.
 
Well, you cannot call me
foolish when I strike
the match that is lodged
length-wise in my throat,
though it might smudge
my breath with smoke.
 
I don't know if we can
huddle together like cups
in a fairy tale granny's cupboard.
 
I don't know if we can
clamber forever upward like twisted
branches of a cemetery oak.
 
One of us is shaking,
dear James.
The other is silent
as the leathery tongue
in Hitler's old jackboot.
 
                                                                         From The Florida Letters
 
 
 
The Little Pumpkin-Headed Boy
 
Lurked in the corner,
jealous all the good names
were already taken.
 
The Goat-Faced Boy.
The Turnip Kid.
Little Melon Junior.
 
So when it was his turn,
they took a scalpel
and carved out a nose, mouth,
 
punched out eyeholes
with their thumb-hooks.
When they held up the mirror
 
for him to see their work,
he spat out seeds like curses
then rolled outside to cry
 
and lament his curlicue lips,
the tambourine smile he
could never wipe off.
 
                                                                                   From Ha Ha Tonka
 

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