What Rough Beast | Poem for July 13, 2017

Eileen Tabios
From The Ashbery Riff-Offs
—where each poem begins with 1 or 1-2 lines from “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror” by John Ashbery

Witnessed in the Convex Mirror: Eco Echo

But it is the first step only, and often
remains a frozen gesture of welcome etched
by regret on memory as a hand held back
from rising for a handshake. Therein did die
the possibility of a hug—nor is this political
When one is caught in a winter threatening
to descend into permanence, become naked
with others before huddling together under
the lone, remaining blanket. Skin against skin
heats all bodies regardless of which candidate
received their votes. A welcome should never
remain mere possibility. Our blood gasps for
hemoglobin. The planet is dying and our
thinning limbs quake in its weakening grasp


Eileen R. Tabios has released about 50 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in eight countries and cyberspace. Her most recent include The Opposite of Claustrophobia (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2017) and Amnesia: Somebody’s Memoir (Black Radish Books, 2016). Forthcoming poetry collections include Mantattan: An Archaeology (Paloma Press, 2017). Inventor of the poetry form “hay(na)ku,” her poetry has been translated into eight languages. She also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 12 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays as well as served as editor or guest editor for various literary journals. More information is available at eileenrtabios.com.

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