Photo of Gail Wronsky by Gary Goldstein email

Gail Wronsky Gail Wronsky

Gail Wronsky is the author of Again the Gemini are in the Orchard (poetry), Dying for Beauty (poetry), The Love-talkers (fiction), and co-author with Molly Bendall of the Calamity and Belle books. Her poems and reviews have appeared in Antioch Review, Denver Quarterly, Boston Review, Volt, Runes, 88, and other journals. She is the recipient of Artist Fellowships from the California Arts Council and the Utah Arts Council. Her translations of the poetry of Argentinean poet Alicia Partnoy and of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires have appeared in journals and anthologies, including A Chorus for Peace (University of Iowa). She teaches creative writing, women's studies, and Surrealism in the Syntext Program at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

In Imitation of a Dream

In the poet's story the dinner guests seat themselves on toilets around a table. The pimply nephew makes insistent advances toward his timid maiden aunt. A nurse and three monks gamble recklessly for religious hegemony. Meret and Motherwell discover their daughter's pornographic website. A Napoleonic captain orders the execution of some Spanish patriots in front of a statue of the lovely Doņa Elvira. Narration itself takes on the erotic dimension of a striptease. None of us gets what we want. What we want is freedom. The poet pours a drop of cognac on his tongue, which signals that the fighting must continue.

Jade Night

Scenes of mad love. Days laid down like rags around our feet. Meret stood with Motherwell, looking at the ruin of ruins in Mexico. A fountain in the middle of the room. Nothing in the world but rain. Nothing in the world but rain and rags and their two beings rotating, totally washed. And this was the real place. Rub it. Rub it till it tears you apart.

That State of Expectation

In the middle of one of my midnight enthusiasms, I entered a nearly deserted thoroughfare. In the foreground a streetlamp. A wall against which a slatted shutter bangs. Part of a blustery tree, a stormy sensation. Motherwell, seen through a window in profile, removing a pressed insect from a book. A boy prostitute, lipsticked and grinning as though just about to bust out laughing. Meret, in her double-knit, paralyzed between the two.


I haven't been to Patagonia. I'm equally intrigued by the Pataphysicians, but I'm reluctant to read their plays. The front placket of Motherwell's pants rises up like the stop signal at a railroad crossing. Meret will pander to it with the tiny glass palaces swinging from the sleeve-hem of her haute couture pajama. He has not yet killed either of his parents. (Assorted harmonious panoramas and views.) But with patience, I'm positive, the tapestries of memory might be parlayed from this mossy page. These paradoxes of the collective patrimony.

The Corner of the Eye

The corner of the eye, a cork-lined room like that of Marcel Proust, is where a glass and a wine bottle meet to faire l'amour. Is where Calixto, the handsome one, mixes his concrete. Where a Peruvian child alone by the rocks raises her left arm, making a flock of white doves flying one way change its direction. Calixto straddles his giant hose and wet concrete gushes forth, spewing the shapes of frogs, saints, toadstools, and little Davids into the vacant blue spaces of Meret's naivete.

A Cultural Thing

We Latinas want sharp profiles and visible mystery. The moon's asbestos, and so on. Blood spattered on the windowpane. Motherwell, peering through the cracks in his own Eagle Warrior mask for a glimpse of something infinite. We will die. This is the only remedy. Apropos of that, I find us all immensely interesting.

Is Simplicity Simple?

We have the President's address. Why have we all gone fishing? Why can't I stop laughing? If I picture an owl on top of someone's head, and then a piece of my own excrement on top of that, will it please the King of Slide Shows? Why is night a marshland of stars and day a cacophony of futile bell-ringing? “You're missing the point,” you say. Repeat that thirty times and you will start to understand the artist's dilemma.

The Church of Reciprocal Love

inspired by a Hindu temple-hanging

When the man and the woman are standing
and the woman's right knee is raised against the man's
left hipbone it is called the mermaid.

When the man and the woman are standing
and the woman's right hand guides the man's erect cock
into her pussy it is called stabbing the sorceress.

When the woman is sitting on the man's lap facing him,
her feet behind him, his feet behind her
it is called improbable octopus.

When the man and woman are facing each other,
his hand on her left breast, her hand cupping his balls,
both man and woman looking at something behind the woman
it is called electricity: bathroom.

When the man is facing the woman's back, holding her breasts,
his cock going into her pussy from behind
it is called the breasts become buttocks.

When the woman's feet are off the ground
and the man is holding her and doing her at the same time
it is called one tall flaming lily.

When the man is standing up and the woman is seated
below him, her lips on his penis
it is called St. Dolly and her prisoner.

When the woman is doing a handstand and the man
is holding her legs up and putting his cock in her from above
it is called neck of the cyclist.

When the man is seated below the woman,
his open mouth between her thighs
it is called a cloud now passes before the moon.

When Calixto is lying down face up, Meret woman seated
on top of him, her back toward his head
it is called blood-stained pillow, high-heeled shoes, and
a pair of (wet) panties

Couple with Their Heads Full of Clouds

After their brush with death, but before either Meret or Motherwell had spent any time in the yurt tripping their brains out, reliving their births, this was the time they referred to as "Clockwork and Despair." Statues seemed to be looking at them knowingly. Seafoam seemed full of gypsy crystals and cigar smoke. It was what things were not that made them valuable then. What they were not was everything.

The Immense Jolt of Loving

For him the simulations of her mental instability become untranslatable. For him in the face of the air that separated them she purchased a revolver. She spit, she shut, she kicked the curtains, the bolts, the forest of doors. You are sexual copper, she told him. You lie like a rose on our carpet of poetic manifestations, he said. Do you find them charming or idiotic? All that lavishness. I've put the photographic plate of their faces into an acid bath. You'll be shocked by what emerges, more or less. The bones of one continuous escape.

What Scrapes the Clouds: A Digression

After the funeral procession we return once again to the room. The poet-killer is released from custody and joins us, a celebrated hero. What is a dead poet? we ask ourselves. A metaphor for textual violence? A type of censorship? A diagetic trigger meant to move us to a different level of discourse altogether? The red curve of his mouth had been closed as if to refuse our kisses. And so we had buried him, a spent sun, at the zenith of our genital reckoning. Only his antlers remained—irregular structures stretched up into darkness, the number of their branches corresponding precisely to the number of veritable heartaches he had borne.

Tortured Little Sensitivities

Onto all of her sensations she slips the handcuffs of a smile, knowing that with one leap of her electric legs she could initiate the execution of Motherwell. She sips oolong tea in her fur-lined cup. Checks her website. Lifts the jewels on her arms to see if the wounds they've been covering have festered or improved.

Epistolary Perfection

Eliminating bitterness, we communicate by wireless telephone, without wondering why these bleeps feel so much like real meeting. There are rules here, in the new regime. For one, the prison guards would like to be acknowledged. Dear Kindness, Dear Monkey-wrench, Dearest Roulette . . . Love, Dream.

Interrogation of a Patron Saint

Do you want to tell me how it ends? Are you cross with me? Would you like more essence of fennel in the offering fire? When will we go out together in the little paddle boat? Will it be calm or tempestuous on the river? Who wounded you? What are we about to see? How do you explain the fact – the facts, yes, all of them? What about horses? Will, for example, the final discontinuity of death displace their opinions? The ongoing war? Your voyeurism? Motherwell's flaming secret sword of unquenchable love?