Marni Ludwig

Little Box of Cotton and Lightning

The best guards are placed
outside the gate to nothing.
Well, I've nothing left to take.
Shot up the last with spit
and a shoelace.

This year is last year's:
a. best case
b. worst case
You're a good horse.
You can sleep standing up.

The birds sing: systole,
diastole. The puppeteer
appears to be wearing
the same outfit
as her marionette.

All bets & metaphors are off.
Leaning on the wrong
neighbor's door,
the cards tell you to knock,
so knock.

Day Choir

A room where you went to listen
to carillon. A white-walled room
to rest in. Breathing is its skin.

Where was my house when all I was seeing
was smoke where was my house?

The phone rings. It ties its shoelaces.

I worry about my neck.

In the walls I hear anesthetists in their coats
and the nicker of a black horse. Then the sticks come,
wearing their drummer's uniform.

Winter is hovering over and so all I am doing is picking up
winter's clothes. Wool is its own
animal and feeling
and bell.

I alone cut the muffled white sheep.

A dial tone.


I knew better.

The one star, a fixed gear
grinding over the paralytic lake

like a keepsake. Would you rather
be dead than bored? Dead
than loved? I would.

I held my lily head.
I went swimming with horses.
Afterward a faint rain troubled the water.

The secret of the blind is the hand.

I strung paper flowers.

A two-fingered breeze spun
lavender, as from the weather-vane.

Among the Living as Among the Dead

A walk, a nap, a photograph
of a life raft. How do you cure
memory? Choreograph the sky
and the birds all turn to plastic bags

or else they smack the glass.
Say something less true
but with one true face,
like a statue. Say something else.

I sold the future for a second past,
told the snow my name
but it knew. White logic,
black spoon, scare tactic,

nodding out in a hospital bracelet
humming some third harmony
you shouldn't sing
a kid. You shouldn't sing.

You should step aside.
The birds hit back here,
where want is an event
visibly breathing in its sling.

You died twice in a lace dress,
in a folding chair,
you didn't hear the door.
You died twice, the trickle

of your smile sinking
like a miracle as you
let your eyes adjust.
You died in a lace dress‒

the story is an excuse
for the voice. Begin again
the chorus of your carefully
reordered childhood.