An essay about writing
these poems


The poems of
Subterranean Verities
in a previous issue


For more poetry


Photo of Gail Wronsky by Gary Goldstein email

Gail Wronsky

Gail Wronsky

Anachronistic Night's Dream

Passion's Red Thread

           She will sing a love-song
           and pin a creamy gardenia
in her hair. She will                 smother her hands
with ylang-ylang lotion and         turn her claws to jewels
that excite      men's      skin.
           What does Oberon want?
           The feather-tufted nest
which was their starting point.                  And Titania?
Simply to write him a letter:            Each time
                    I make love           I say to myself
if only             Bottom were here,
           twisting my thoughts
like            cigarette papers with his
dreamweaver's thumbs.

A Compulsive Love of Scandal

Resulted in:  some prostitute
                       who wouldn't give her name
telephoning             Lysander's          rehab counselor at
with a hotel address. The                     counselor refusing to
              help, having heard that                    Lysander
recently              squandered his
              scholarship money
                                      in an Indian casino.
Demetrius,      in a drug rage
                            running down some street: My
                   friends are homosexuals!

Hermia          at her mirror:  Look, I'm
                                                like a corpse!
           closing his eyes            in pleasure at the
image of that          teenage          homeless
                       drift-girl in the movies always
lost then found.
                       A million          trivial domestic
quarrels                                         in the city of Athens.


The woman          has been          self-othering lately.
                       Abandoning that           childlike
               candor she'd rather          desperately cultivated.
From now on, it's
                       games of wisdom and clairvoyance—not
          the ingenuous fascinations
sparked by                      chance meetings of words in a
                 poem.                 She still believes,
of course, that the                   whole earth is art, and that
                       the marvelous must be
an integral part of our                 everyday drama. But she's
stepped outside                           the skin
                          of her former muse/femme-
. She has
her gaze.                   Her mane, a mass of stone ringlets,
                       trails down her          back like a
monument to anarchy.                         Not failed anarchy,
                                       exactly, but
to a kind of               rush and tumble                vivacity she
                                          no longer seeks nor finds
as useful. So many                    people                   die
                     anyway, don't they.                 The future,
a matter of               staging—I mean,              more refusing to
                 conform your words          to your acts.

Being, Having, and Lacking

             after Hans Bellmer

The doll has             four legs and no torso. No
                  head. No             arms.
It is                      hanging from a meat-hook,
                               wearing white socks and
Mary-janes. Its                father was
                       a Nazi. Its mother        drowned in
a river behind the house.          It wants
                   you, reader, to put
of your fingers into one of its          holes. It is
          something that
Oberon,                         being a decent king, can't
                  bring himself to do.
Even                           Puck                falters
                      at this threshold of genital disorder—
                 though,             succumbing
to his role as                          bad-boy
                    in the perverse           universe of
                   otherworld       sadism.

In Fear Of Being Understood

If the world                             is a shooting gallery of     random
forms, then,                        like light, we have the               power to
penetrate                         all sleeping bodies.
                   We can occupy                         with confidence the
abandoned                         throne of the object. We can
                    call Oberon                         “Bottom”
from the deep            oceanic                   nightmare of our beds.
                But this
hurts him. And he                        leaves us, taking our Indian
In the morning,                at the coffeehouse,        when we
                confess the slip-up and its          consequences to our
rustic   lover             he'll shrug it off,     radiantly disinterested.

The demands of love                are too great,     we'll say
                                        and we'll withdraw.

Ring of Fire

Oberon,              being Shiva,
                    sits in the middle of it.
It is          heaven and hell.   It
                               smells, alternately,
like frangipani—          then      like an
     elevator packed with
grandmothers—          like a truck
                    stop, like a
        slaughterhouse.      Titania
looks in.          She wants to
                      worship him.   She
wants to feel the rush
                         of a smuggled
          intimacy.              She
        makes herself           long. She
makes herself
into something          pointed and
          slim.          She pokes her way
   in between                     two parted
tresses of                                    flames
taking back     everything     she ever
          felt or believed in.

* * *

Gail Wronsky is the author of Poems for Infidels (Red Hen Press), Dying for Beauty (Copper Canyon Press), The Love-talkers (a novel, Hollyridge Press) and other books. She is the translator of Volando Bajito, a book of poems by Argentinean poet Alicia Partnoy. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including Poets Against the War, A Chorus for Peace, The Poet's Child, Pool, Volt, and Runes. The recipient of a California Artists Fellowship, she is Director of Creative Writing and Syntext at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.