5 Poems

by Jane Sprague






the lesser cats



Attention is the rarest form of generosity. It is the activity of investigation that interests the most. Claims for understanding ourselves.

You need to experience the language of the place intimately to quote memory. Current invisible forces, a situation the result of guerrilla tactics: dialogues can never be exclusively naming.

How does it challenge…what point of contact…where are we safe in…how do we…

It matters what discourse. The form itself inserts our—

When you…

Moments of social rupture.

How do we…and in our…moment of…

Everything personal escapes the question of presence everything past its edges.

To what degree is the…use of a knowledge…

I use all of his language against him.








he’s, she’s, hers, his, yours, mine, ours, I’ve, we’ve, they’ve, could’ve, might’ve, aren’t, wasn’t, they’re, they’ve, (…)

and oh, their kind ellipses.








shouldn’t, couldn’t, needn’t, mightn’t, oughtn’t, his hers ours theirs mine. mine.
wasn’t, twasn’t, aren’t, can’t, could’ve  should’ve, would’ve, might.

oh these lapping pronounce.







whose? his? ours? hers? theirs? mine? I’ve? we’ve? they’ve?

my, my, my, my, my.



the lesser cats

one is over there thinking of another who is over here. in this he thinking of she, or she of she, he of he, we—never touching only thinking. our never idle thinking.

a horizontal beam of light up down up down and us pitched to the screen.
impossible to switch to leave. a horizontal beam of light scans up down across lines

pointing to this idea—here. so much depends upon perception. or, an illusion of answers.

in the space of approximately ten square feet we regard each other
as uncaged lions. a confusion of selves appears as we this idea of we splits apart the real.

these lions we are sniffing track the edges of this we.

it’s easier inside the lit code. no scent to distract. no flexing feet.  no twisting neck across the span too small for some heat to rise.

if we are lions we are stalking

if we are in a room it is not big enough to hold us

if we are pitched in our chairs to the edge of desks we are writing

if we are stopped in the flickering beam we cannot see its path

up and down and down over us changing



Jane Sprague publishes Palm Press, www.palmpress.org . She began and curated the West End Reading Series in Ithaca, NY. Her work has been published in many print and online magazines including Kiosk, Jacket, Bird Dog, Rain Taxi, Xcp: Cross Cultural Poetics, and The Poetry Project Newsletter, among others. She lives in Long Beach, California.

Working Note: “Disintercourse” appropriates language from Carla Harryman, Akilah Oliver, Brenda Coultas, Gertrude Stein, Raymond Williams, Barrett Watten and others. (Naropa Institute, Summer, 2003.

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