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Lakeside - Liza Libes

What if we could measure peace

Reclining in a beach chair

Breathing in the salt-tinged atmosphere

Attenuated by a blast of snow

Apprehending music from the seagulls

Shuffling through angel imprints in the sand

Tomorrow we are pierced by shrills and

Ambulances simulating rescue

Dealt a bill for almost dying

Sirens screaming through the terrace

If this is what it’s like

To be arrested in a corpse of adolescence

Then what might Grandma tell us on her deathbed?

What might it be like to be a grandma

Praying on her deathbed—

At eighteen life is terror!

I dither on the balcony

The temperature is always right

The other day

They brought a painting through Fifth Avenue

Stenciled eyes and angled shoulders

Jutting through the styrofoam

One displayed a grimace in a primal mask

In the background a fragmented

Sky is jousting with a plate of grapes

Clouds contend with flower petals

Falling through the cracks

I cycle through the portents

Sight distorted by the sheen of fear

I cannot remember how to smile

Through a novel on the seaside

Placing bets on other people’s stories

When no one might defend the likes of mine

Let me have a say—

Show me through this mutilated fantasy

Called metropolitan creation

Tomorrow, I might wind up in another office

Waltzing through the mountainscapes and bayous

I’ll conjure up the tales of adventure

Likening the fairies, knights and dragons

To a girl who would never care for money

In a fantasy in my fragmented unimagination

All the while collecting laudatory designations

Medals made out in the name of fiscal yield

I cannot pretend to say just what they mean

Rothko made a string quartet before he pledged himself to colors

I cannot imagine what it’s like to reinvent myself

When everyone is watching

The dissonance ascends into the ventilation shaft

If a string quartet performed a faceless motive

Can we really call it music?

In the face of monochrome and boxes

Melodies have been forgotten

In another city,

Writers, painters and musicians shuffle towards the train

Displaced by what is duly permanent and practical

The irony of corporate complaints!


After studying the poetry of Sylvia Plath and T.S. Eliot at Columbia University, Liza Libes moved to Chicago, where she currently runs an education startup. Her poetry, which frequently addresses themes of female identity, Judaism, and desire, has appeared in literary journals such as Gone Lawn, Jewish Women of Words, and Subterranean Blue Poetry. When she is not writing, you can find at her favorite bookstore or opera house, perpetually overdressed.


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