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Author Archive | Denise Bergman

Undetonated Cluster

Tossed, dropped it freefalls so easily through the willing, complicit sky A slender wind pokes, nudges, guides misguides A squall of warm air slurs the speed the metal orb floats, a jewel-red plum parachuting, an overripe peach spit from a god’s bitter lips On deeded sand it lands, or settles in a bent cedar limb […]

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Piranesi Etching

“Seeing that the remains of the ancient buildings of Rome, scattered for the most part in gardens and fields, are being day by day reduced by the injuries of time or by the greed of their owners. . . , I decided to preserve them in these plates.”                                         — Piranesi, Antichita Romane                                               (Roman Antiquities), 1756 […]

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Hairdresser at the Rehab

On a broken woman’s scalp a froth of white gloves the fingers scrubbing pillow-matted hair combed, parted, cut, frosted tissue-wrapped ends rolled gently pink and blue. Surrounded by potions clear, cream rinses and highlighters, protein replenishers, a bouquet of silver scissor wands a judge whose voice can’t shape her name sits rapt anticipating, a waitress […]

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Noon Whistle

Leaping from the edge-of-town factory fist, a machinist, buttoned blue sleeves, steps into the autumn noon light. Sits, back to the smokestack, on an old wooden bench opens wax-paper tuna seedless dark rye, a half-sour. A bookkeeper stretches fingers ’round a flat wide thermos, lentil soup, and a welder, unmasked, sips crimson borcht, red confetti […]

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Red

1 She calls across the tenement valley to her friends pulling laundry off the cross-cut line A block away, hogs hang from steel question-marks Guts pour from the gashes in their bellies spill over the workers’ shoes fall between the floor slats into Miller’s River She calls Bernadette, Madge, Belinda in the chopped syllables of […]

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