Elaine Equi: Three poems

  Elaine Equi

  Three poems

  The Americans, part two / Faces / The Country Club


  The Americans, part two
I think I saw Robert Frank
having dinner in a restaurant,

sitting at a table near mine.
I didn’t know what to say –

didn’t want to disturb
his hunger or reverie.

Maybe, I thought of asking how
Americans look to him today.

Instead I went back to my burger –
my conversation about Black Friday, holiday

movies, and the feminism of Taylor Swift.
Still, I kept thinking of his eyes —

and that look, at once both distant
and immediate as if he could focus

the versatile lens of his brain
as needs be, instantly.

I don’t think anyone will ever win
a staring contest with that man (whoever he was).

He had the look of someone who has seen something
real but knows reality hasn’t reached its limit yet.


I love to watch
the dough of faces


          into petals
          on a wet black
          trance —

animated by cruel
or kindly thoughts,

spun off
in the magic lantern
of the brain.

One looks sharply
at reality, as if to say:
“Prove it,”

while another’s eyes
move rapidly

back and forth —
speed-reading the air,

a poem only she
seems aware of.


  The Country Club
Living across the street from it, I’m surprised
I was never curious about what went on there.
Some sort of adult games that required lots of
plaid leisure-wear. I never heard the not so
distant strains of music spilling over its dark
blue lawn. Whatever went on in its parallel
universe was of no concern to the rest of us,
burning our toast and cursing the neighbor’s
dog. Once, though, in the middle of the night,
I did sneak in. Wandered, really. I was high,
with a boy. No one stopped us. We sat in the
middle of a fairway, passing a bottle of wine
back and forth. The moon hung in the sky
like a luminous golf ball, unwilling to land.
Behind a curtain of tall trees, even the roof
of my house was invisible. That’s when it
hit me — they couldn’t see us either.



Elaine Equi was born in Oak Park, Illinois and grew up in the Chicago area. Since 1988 she has lived in New York with her husband, poet Jerome Sala. She currently teaches creative writing in the Master of Fine Arts programs at City College of New York and The New School. Widely published, her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, and numerous volumes of The Best American Poetry. In April 2007 Coffee House Press published Ripple Effect: New and Selected Poems. Also in 2007 she edited a special section for Jacket Magazine: The Holiday Album: Greeting Card Poems For All Occasions. Photo: Elaine Equi, New York City, photo by John Tranter.

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