John Latta


Marginalia and Aisle

My marginalia’s sentimental and fey,

Gypsy-spelt, and dagger’d to 

Improbable rows of ibids, exclamatory, 

Amateur, scorn’d. Addressed to you 

Out there, fiddler and deft 

Almanacker of the elegiac gone. 

Oh the ache and sustenance 

Of ache, what makes th’hearty 

Soprano’s satin’d nipples stiffen up 

To buttons mid-aria, admitting 

The clamor and succor of 

Lack. It’s lack th’octagonal stick 

Of the mad-saw’d violin 

Hides, a pernambuco beaut’ with 

Silver-mount’d ebony frog, avowedly 

Invisible here in the aisle.

Xylophone and Dunce

Turn a rub-color’d eye,

‘Such a waggish leering it

Works in all your horribles.’

Nigh is th’impenetrable buckler of 

‘Insolency Rote and snarlish,’ wrought 

Butt of cheer-raked quarrel,

In ‘formall noddy’ to puffery

Careerist. Oh the drear of 

My dissemblance bangs a murtherous 

Xylophone, ‘theen I besseche thee.’

You in the baffle-hat

And plush fatigues, tired of 

Pulling th’impartial rabbit out, that 

Nutmeg-ear’d one. Blake, Wm.: 

‘I am hid.’ Dunce of 

Bliss unsung, idiot of rose.

Architecture and Mouth

Carnal bridges offer one out, 

A satisfying architecture, humping up 

To the prospect, semi-wild, 

Of looking down. Green stalks 

Green to recoup continual greening, 

Stalks a fat weed-wrack’d 

Mouth to burble out dark 

Arpeggios of gaping predatory loss. 

Loss that eats loss—sex- 

Slung feasibles of hungry intent. 

So sound errs to lend 

Repetition its holy score: I 

Rinse myself of any too- 

Godly freight, and fail to 

Hush my own heart’s blood 

That down unbent flowers flows.

Jetty and Yellowlegs

Stellar brooding in the brine- 

Lanes. World call’d ‘a Bote, 

Toss’d it is, over & 

Onto’ troublous nethery foregone waves. 

Dogging the jetty it is. 

Devotee of the trawler-dump, 

Cur of the opalescent trough 

Askitter. Up-down amongst fisher- 

Folk, a dean of disjumble. 

Oh the doubleness does sur- 

Round us & meeter be 

It to name than to 

Abode the doughty spits of 

Cloudwork brandishing th’ycleptic where two 

Lesser yellowlegs lift off two- 

Noted, he sd, you, you.



John Latta’s first collection, Rubbing Torsos, appeared in 1979 (Ithaca House). A new collection, Breeze, winner of the 2003 Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry, was published in 2002 by the University of Notre Dame Press. Other recent poems are in or forthcoming in The Germ, Leviathan Quarterly, Southwest Review, Verse, Crowd, LIT, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere.