Three Poems by Lisa Russ Spaar

Black and white photo of a feather

When Love’s Away Madrigal


Small toad, green as salt-
scoured aspirin bottle seaglass,
no larger than a thumb,
what about the ecosystem

of my kitchen sink struck
you as fossorial or aquatic,
gripping the faucet’s crozier,
all short, squat skull, all burr

& bulbous, lidded eyes
that when mature will cry?
I too feel born from a shell-less
mass of doll’s-eye eggs, amphi-bios,

“both kinds of life,” respiring
through panting skin, lungless, longing.



Nest Madrigal


What confidence, instinct,
O Precarious, made this wattled ink

of botched starts, breasted lore,
whose thatch in the fork

of two branches, shows—duh—
the first home: pubis, mother,

In my dream-code,
it’s to this contrived abode,

coda to the flits of love,
& bossed by laws inter-woven

as the center of a universe—
fleece, feed, fly—that I return.

Life’s a parsing of the verb to hide
from any public image. What’s inside.



Music Box Madrigal


A wrist of sticks cut, thrust in water
to force the sweet crease of cherry flosses
& then forgotten now thickens with fur-dross,
greeny on the windowsill through which a neighbor’s

radio pines in Friday-night nostalgia
to the tune of a six-pack of something.
An old story, Romance:  On such an Evening,
the Light, &c.—unhinged by sudden thaw,

the wind dovetailing through strappy trees
its clair, its eyeblink—brings to the darkened
space of a fisted ribcage a fresh chance.
Lift the lid, unbend the stiff, sprung figure

of speech within, tutu spread like the spirit’s bloom
ringing body’s vase with the snowy ropes of freedom.

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