Two Poems by Beth Ruscio

Non Grata


We lay in the dark, breathing together.
–Louise Glück, Faithful and Virtuous Night

An indigo North Dakota winter night,

enter a girl, in between abandoned and thorn,

dirty blonde ribbon in her hair, B.O., annoyed,

an ongoing annihilation with knit brow. No hello.

Not likeable. Obliged to hear her rant, I really

tried to talk to the dear darkling. Nothing doing.

Oh, wow, tell me to go lie down and all day like garbage I rot.

A kid. Wary, daring, wayward. A tyrant.


By God, to be like that, a tangible knell,

world weary energy all day, a lethal will

to hit the terrible wall again, letting go

like a battered door in wind. Her wronged tale,

hardly grand, we’re nothing alike, are we?

Yet I let her go on. Let her reign the night.


Imaginary Memorial

Instead of a mausoleum, it’s a performance art swimming pool.
Jerzy Grotowski wears a gilded tri-corn empanada on his head,

bronzer on his face.   Hair silvered and jet, he’s vaguely Musketeer.
Kipping off the high diving board, he flubs a twisting dive,

water slaps all over.   If we all wore empanadas on our heads,
goes his theory, our identities would be established on sight :

diablo, dulce, jamon.   Fluent in Salsa Blanca, l’m used to larger bodies of water,
he says, smoothing back his bangs.   Reservoirs, lakes—they’re more my zone.

Then, Dad and Mom glide in, that eight-thirty gait, all grace.
Both restored to buoyancy, though they haven’t swum in years.

Late, as is their fashion, for the funeral.    How did you get here?
The hug goes on so long that everybody dives.

Ready for magic? says Mom, unusually amuseable.
One minute, she’s pulling off evening gloves

the next, she’s smoking and singing like Sinatra.
We took La Cienega     all     the     way

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