This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features two poems by Rebecca Wolff. 


I front
because I can

I front because
I care: the secret to fronting

you must never stop
to think gleaming

pristine abundance

the saucy daughter
of the devil, fra diavolo

I’m not using metaphor:
I can’t get over how much I love

this product design,
and the conceit of the product

(which is delicious, btw):
superfruits, from different continents.

That impulse to make things look pretty
and sell more

in the agrarian landscape

divisions of labor—friendly old hippies
unfriendly young hippies—I feed six people

and then I stop.
That soup sells

and this soup obviously doesn’t sell as much.
And I trust people

to make good choices
so I don’t have to impale them

on the tines of my pitchfork. Or otherwise

govern them. Why do you need so much
government, if you don’t like government why

do you insist upon making
these bad choices.

Use Objects: Boise Art Museum 2009

I just want to touch everything
hanging from the walls and the ceiling

I’ve never felt this way before—Ruth Duckworth—is she
really still living?
The card says so. What do I want to look at

a bunch of quilts hanging on the wall for? I am almost done

with this guileless pose
exhaust one’s self in several poses
currently standing and looking
my ass off

at doll quilts 1863
                        in a glass box
everything darker
just the general tenor of life

the fabrics, candlelight, eyes

shut at sundown
The “sunshine and shadow pattern”
made with tiny stitches a whole lot of sense

that human intelligence—
now so dulled—
could have flamed

so bright as to stitch this square
with a ladies’ fan

with a velvet boot
this a tilted teacup.

And then I went to see Bright Star

and wept more in the dark for that recaptured

peering at poems,
by candlelight, when night
was dark.

Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).