Commentary, Gallery

The Fridges of Famous Poets

Curated by Katharine Ogle
Associate Editor
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Rilke’s Lemon

A lemon came home from the grocery, nestled
in the net bag with the rest of the produce,
but he hadn’t bought it.
How did you get here?
Rilke puts the lemon in the fridge
next to the lemon juice.

Someone has cut a slice from it.
Like the corpse of a saint, the lemon
remains fresh and sweet-smelling
for a suspiciously long time. Rilke thinks:

Like a girl almost
or like the refrigerator gremlins
who eat electricity to stay alive,
you have to learn to live with longing.

You just have to learn to live with longing.
Every waking moment, the lemon is rolling slowly
looking for the fridge within the fridge that it knows is there.

–Sarah Kathryn Moore


All’s Despite (or, Paul Celan’s Fridge)

shellacked and scrubbed
green, yawning
fingernail caught

in a sunken jamb, wailing
tin mantras;

color of fresh-
puckered mint
on a rubberrack
next to two carrots

blush in so styrene a crypt

(o and who
levered pith
and gum into this?)

Celan found it, he
levered the hard, crud-daubed handle,
he pried

rubber muzzle,
squelched open the lips

on a low bank
of Seine, found it there,

found it there full of grime
and akimbo,

projecting from mud,
from a sandbar, found

ripple-washed, flashed
at the base,
coaxing eddies, Celan

cracked the door
and the shell filled
with water.

Celan left it there: squelched
the door open, left,

left that day
then the next,
through the door he left

feathers and shoes
and pocked crystal
baubles, clean

cruets of stream-
water, paperback awful
old Kafka (Der Schloss),
the back-cover portrait face-
down—and Celan

left again
until one day he
pulled out the shelves,
wrenched the door,

twisted over and
bent himself in,

slopping, and feathered
by cold,

an unquiet
trinket, a whine

–Jack Chelgren


The Idea of Order in Stevens’ Refrigerator

Madam of the All-Knowing,
Your wish the Medusa’s eye,
Which way did Red Pants go?
She is loved by glass men,
Hated by those stoned to a dial
Turned to three. The hoon hunts
for Hunt’s. Crystals crack
Across the skin of their cream.


–Bill Carty & Rich Smith


Dylan Thomas

When the lemon-eyed rat gnaws at my skull,
the censorious icebox must shutter
open. Strung through the new moon’s black socket,
a no-longer-wintering thirst burns like
a bush. Zodiac soup will watch love lash
against my vegetal cheek and rot me.

The God-Bottle frosts blue and flashes you
its nude eyes that see the country within
the city and hear the high syllables
of angels rise like fat atop cold stock.

My heroic liver has a gray kink
that was not gilded by The River Styx.
The sting of orange on my Christian puncture
May not be drowned before I am preserved.

–Constance Hansen


One Is Anywhere; Some Are Everywhere
after Anne Sexton

 Taboo: suppose. . . timing. Frozen a perceived quality.
Progesterone, oxytoxin, placenta, its food. If it’s so, it will still be so dethawed,

Prohibited and forbidden
Disapproved and outlawed
Passive voice fumbling for its own innate

Que sera sera. When I was a little girl, let me sing
For the supper. In the Hollywood Hills,

Uncommon but not obscene.
Los Angeles so impervious to weather. What is fog elsewhere
Is our marine layer, and when wind what would be called
By reasonable word a storm hits christens: the Santa Anas.

In the preserved-within-an-inch-of-their-lives former star homes,
The poet’s befuddled fridge empties self out in a swelling brown pool
Of incontinence, and appliance that soldiered on was the stove.
In the dark. The cathedral. We’re cooking with gas now, bub.

Unceremoniously born mid-decay, placenta craned its icy head
To yawn, thawed like hatching. Everyone in me is a bird.

Because my culture makes blood sausage, blood cake, eats tongues,
I applied the olive oil, dab of butter. Anne Sexton ran through me. The little one

Sous-chefed herself, sprinkling the spoiling shallots over
Her vestigial tail. Who’s? Possession tricky. It is malleable across cultures.
It tastes like iron tastes. It is a ten-foot scarf. It is at the aquarium
Tending a seal. She straddles a cello in Russia. She is cello, she is Russia. You have
To trust me. We waited. We watched her.

I don’t feel any healthier. I told her,
When my sister was born, we buried her. As is custom
With our culture, remember, the blood culture? In keeping syncopation
With the light macabre, the four-year-old sommelier
Ran her sober fingers across rapid new dew
On unexpectedly unchilled champagne, going to pot. We also

Never felt healthier.

–William Fox Camponovo