Richard Greenfield is the author of A Carnage in the Lovetrees (University of California Press), which was listed as a Top Ten University Press Book by BookSense in 2003. His poetry has appeared in Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Electronic Poetry Review, Five Fingers Review, Fourteen Hills, Lit, Soft Targets, Volt, and others. He is an editorial adviser for Noemi Press and co-editor of Apostrophe Books, a small press of poetry, which began publishing books this year. He is completing a new manuscript titled Tracer and was recently a visiting writer at Brown University (listen to a clip). Born in Hemet, California, he spent his early childhood in Southern California and later lived in the Pacific Northwest. He lives in Eastern Tennessee.

Four Poems by Richard Greenfield


Evasive maneuvering to not be hit by falling leaves, by the descending graces of death.

The beloved blooms in the guise of the familial or deadly in the hole of the heart— she kills.

Now the singular self is puny in the bed without her. Hush— I fill the space with the whir of a fan, running at the low setting.

From the burned library to the filling-in of the fragments— the blank of blank was a favorite: love infested the of.

If we wring the sky of its water, the spousal land saturates… he a woman she a man— they pinnacle they nightflame in the demiurge of sex.

Improbable stars blink time or destiny above the high lake, the pollens believe
              in nothing

                    the drifty disdain of her hair.

Welled in the apricot tree, the bees’ nest cools off in the red-tint of the heartwood.

The rotten ladder is wedged there—
                                                      blotchy fruit tempt over heads.

The sparrows are so high
they duck beneath the corona.

The accepted language is the backyard thunderhead roils and reaffirms her over him.

The accepted language is the river glinting in the middle section of the baroque

and how it ends, unoriginal in the red or yellow symmetrical slide from the grassy divider of the street, central in the skillet of the split up.

The room shifts blue, the coded sex-channel seizes in the box, two are speaking in a contrived dialogue of coincidence.

The circumvolve above the pole,
cannibalism in the pre-colonial:
the unexpected leap of the remote.

I no longer ride through the halcyon memory to your house because the chestnuts are blocking the streetlight and the dogs keep barking at my passing from behind fenced side yards. And I miss your mouthful.

Love, What else; How much; What kind of.

Here speak the casualties,
here the butterfly bandage,
here the nuptial—

the switch:

it is
it is not.

Her body below me wore the tan of summer and it seemed unbalanced to have held it so long.

The entrails were hanging high and the pole would not reach. The trains boomed in the rail yard.

The vowel was.

There are still the burning colors to contend with: the season-kill of a bright, immeasurable elegance, yet swept into lightweight piles.


Years later the magnitude of that memory rifted me, a cloudy monomial between the sea and the sea.

Such realized, such held-together selves. I thought the certitude of the self was contrived,

but the making of my self was not distinct from the knowing of my self.

Cornered in the pretty evening, trauma dissolved into the dew count and opened the sun.

The sun was flaring a woman’s shadow upon the rock whose terrain had been terror, whose anonymity was traced.

We cried for the subtle phrasing of that hand— for the capacity of its discourse: it had the means of the tradition, the packaged dialogue, the breath end,

the pain—not our own—made—our own.

Coal crumbled on stone.

I expected more from the model.

I expected resistance rather than the posing of the body.

Nightly, the coiled sting of the orbit hung and begged to be interpreted.

Daylight poured into the four corners— not seized, not barefooted.

The child’s songful ear between the parent and the locked door catastrophically unfolded

but attenuated in time, reduced to gestures.

Of the frosted tulips, most thorned.

The hand followed the outline, the hand subdued the umbra to where the god left off.


A drainage of time flows to the south and to the west. I gave away my good-bye— I walked into the resonance of the voice in that moment, the moment had streamed into me, a geography recognized at once: the designated forest had boundaries, though carved through the clear-cut, a road not used. I watched the windowbird at the honeyfeeder eating loss, eating love-me. My pulse within the everyday subway-car versus the fly-by platforms full of anonymity. Blue flashed at times as tunnel light. The doors opened and closed shut on the bastard value of zero. Home, on schedule. The portrait on the personal page loaded incomplete, the baud too slow. Emergent eyes formed, no mouth, in my room, late, tired, the edges of the plates rubbing each other, a turn in the clock, a woman, a man I could know, a woman, a man I would never. These trees are replanted precisely apart. These trees are hidden behind the cursor, until. Write: I would try to make a life here. Life tried to make me here.


Naming had nothing to do with the copper sheen on the river's upturned belly, the roseate rooms others' calamity made for me, the gross exaggerations:

I wanted them to weep.

My voice has been lonely to me & a tonnage of personal evacuations.

In the flame tree's system, near my window in fatal reach, a nest of speckled eggs. What I did I was cruel.

After the bloodless art, after the desecration, the stylus is aching in its thumb-finger hold.

Though opposite even one imagined scream, the rendering of the massacre is roped off, squared by the skylight, and hung in the afternoon hymnal.