Two Poems
Elizabeth H. Barbato


The witch loves her hex
like I love this axe:
the right tool for the job,
and me swallowing the dust,
the holy plaster, the nub
of word on word, the shrug
of a line ending, enjamb-
ing, spelunking. Or caesura.
White and spiders fall in my hair,
on my heirs, on a slope of dark bone.
I leap and flex inside my head,
and scrape and notch and rumble
on the walls of this closet,
where the runes were drowned
in ritual water, now brown.
And the voice from outside
turned the knob on the door
and no was not a spell
that was spoken.


of crispness, slang seldom,
a vault opens like a dark grace

before the wind, this plate,
this plane, ell alchemy of veins

wrung dull fingers, bone drawn
in charcoal, this relevant conjunction

of lines invented by revelers, their stars
a zero sum change, a glacier ecstasy,

a nasty can, slanted sable and strange,
the chipped cup or tooth, the bit player

in a mouth like an alley, in a gym like a tongue,
in a grace like a buoy, in a charm like a bell