PF detail from Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Beach Scene, Guernsey (Children by the Sea in Guernsey) - 1883;


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April 2010


Dorianne Laux was born in Maine and worked in many capacities. A single mother, she took occasional classes and poetry workshops at the local junior college, writing poems during shift breaks. In 1983 she moved to Berkeley, California where she began writing in earnest. Supported by scholarships and grants, she returned to school when her daughter was a young child, and graduated with honors from Mills College in the Spring of 1988 with an English degree. Ms.Laux has been published widely, is the author of various poetry collections and has received numerous honors and awards for her poetry. For more information about her, please check out the Showcase section.

The Orgasms of Organisms | The Last Days of Pompeii


The Orgasms of Organisms

Above the lawn the wild beetles mate
and mate, skew their tough wings
and join. They light in our hair,
on our arms, fall twirling and twinning
into our laps. And below us, in the grass,
the bugs are seeking each other out,
antennae lifted and trembling, tiny legs
scuttling, then the infinitesimal
ah’s of their meeting, the awkward joy
of their turnings around. O end to end
they meet again and swoon as only bugs can.
This is why, sometimes, the grass feels electric
under our feet, each blade quivering, and why
the air comes undone over our heads
and washes down around our ears like rain.
But it has to be spring, and you have to be
in love—acutely, painfully, achingly in love—
to hear the black-robed choir of their sighs.

From: “Smoke,” BOA Editions, Ltd., 2000


The Last Days of Pompeii

What if the ashes came down on us,
a black avalanche trapping our bodies
in their twenty-first century beds,
your spine buttressed with pillows,
wearing taped-up wire glasses,
an old book cracked open
against the knobs of your knees.
And me curled next to you, one hand
on your chest like a wind-blown
blossom, in socks and T-shirt, asleep,
just beginning to dream.

Preserved for time without end
this end-of-day tableau, on view
in a glass room, in the future’s
museum, two dragonflies sealed
in amber or ice. Or ruined statues,
arms and heads lopped off,
the painstaking calculations
of geometry and physics, reconstructing,
from whorled stumps, our inner lives.

The possum bent on a wet road in the blue
headlights of my dream, the marriage
of our bodies only moments before
the ash rushed in like the sea, sheathing
each small thing in cinders and shadows,
what we gave each other encased
in dust: the ring on the sink, a brass angel
with hammered wings, their meaning
a secret even from us, your eyes
seared blind for eternity, my hair
splayed against pillows of dirt
like a handful of dark straw.

From: Facts about the Moon
WW. Norton, 2006