Archive, First Series, Poems

Joyce Carol Oates: “Like This… So This”

This month we reach back into the archive and feature Joyce Carol Oates’s “Like This…So This.” The poem appeared in the Autumn 1969 of Poetry Northwest. Also appearing in that issue: Kenneth O. Hanson, C.G. Hanzlicek, Stephen Dobyns, and Jay Wright.

Like This…So This

Teaching mathematics on the blackboard

deepens the curse of prophecy:

everything willed will happen

The room is filled with motes

hard as gold that must


willful light that cannot not


So my eyes must narrow

at the sight

of you

So improbably beasts

headed stiffly by human heads

or the human-headed bull

or the horse cursed with a spike

in its forehead

of ivory

wander listless among

barns and coops and pens

their tracks in the tame snow

wandering heavily homeward they

butt with their monster

or human heads

the doors of ordinary enclosures

cursed they rub their heads

against the ordinary


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