divine magnet





Lesley Yalen


A Loophole

Time is both ballooning out and shrinking down

Expanding and contracting to trick me

Just when I think I made it through a difficult hour

A year passes, a difficult year,

And just when I feel crippled and old

I remember to be young

I dance in a silly way in the living room

With my daughter who, to look at her,

Especially when she’s frustrated or tired

Is to relocate in myself

The divining rod

I was born with

I understand the future and the past

Don’t exist, but time is in motion

While I’m so still at my desk

Get up once in a while, get up for good

Just walk into those hills for a minute

And then we’ll see who has time


New Year

Whenever I ask this question it’s different

Where am I in the rotation of spheres

How old am I

How long is gravity for

I tried to define Earth for my child

I tried a year

I explained we’re in motion

And she accepted it with stillness

Is the universe infinite

Someone can answer that

Not me not me

Are people infinite

Not me. I had a narrative break

A gaping hole this year

I felt it coming, I felt it right there

But was still surprised to fall in

To experience explosion

To start weeping just because

My friends

May get divorced

Who used to laugh so hard

We all threw up

And felt clean

Were infinite like my child is

But we’re the opposite now

Never weird at all

Always going straight home

The Earth spinning two ways


Not Boring Life

Even the coldest morning seems to have ended.

Even the youngest baby in his backpack is alert

and the panhandlers forgiving. Today, even

the guy with the tattooed face. His regular-

looking kid finds comfort in that face, finds even

an available corner. Even your two guitars

on their stands harbor two different tunings.

Even two orioles one hour in our fruit tree assumed

I’d be back and vice versa. Even our two

small trees make me proud like an aristocrat,

how they bow to me in the morning.

Even I remember walking home from school

by a crab apple tree and envying its orange-brown

detritus. That school, infinitely in my mind.

The halls and doors and recurring pledges.

Even the empty auditorium, rows stretching back

to a point I can’t see. Most of what I’m dealing with

I can’t see. That’s why I got so excited

about the female cardinal, the red flash of truth

as she went. Even the rat you killed with a mallet.

Even the deer who came into the kitchen. Even the

baby’s appearance – a shock of gray. Even the Rabbi,

when his head was bare, talked about an extraordinary visit

from a good priest who held his hand when he was sick,

and never said boo about it.