White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
Joyce Peseroff
Joyce Peseroff's four books of poems are The Hardness Scale, A Dog in the Lifeboat, Mortal Education, and Eastern Mountain Time. She has been coordinating editor, managing editor, and associate poetry editor of Ploughshares, and edited The Ploughshares Poetry Reader, Robert Bly: When Sleepers Awake, and Simply Lasting: Writers on Jane Kenyon. She is the winner of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and of a Pushcart Prize. Her poems and reviews have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Agni, Ploughshares, Southern Review, New York Times Book Review, The Women’s Review of Books, and the online journal Slate.

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Joyce Peseroff

Willing Heart


Anything’s possible with a willing heart.

Learn Chinese: tao-zi—peach. Cook

yourself thin: toilet cleaner and chips

share a preservative. Now privacy’s

the new nudity, predict how three bodies—

like the Earth, the moon, and a spacecraft—

will interact. Joining bay window, pooch,

love handles, muffin top, a fat ankle’s

a cankle; soon we’ll be slimming

our toes. “Why don’t you just adopt?”

isn’t a fair question. One day you glanced

in the mirror and your face had changed.

Cambiar: change in Spanish. The number

of billable hours in a pregnancy is more

compensation than wage. You can divide

disorder from dirt, boyishness from

hyperactivity, carving nature at the joints:

anything possible with willing, heart.

Joyce Peseroff

Mud Season


Water slips to the surface

like hurt feelings, a marsh-

meadow where mosquitoes breed,


a bog for fiery salamanders

and peepers keening like whetted knives.

The world’s a blue-green accident,


they say, if ice didn’t float as it freezes

it would seal each lake and stream

from the bottom up, the way stones


pitched by rival boys will stop a well.

Here we balance on confusion of

solid and liquid and sometimes,


like the mare’s hind shoe, or a swallow

winging toward trees reflected by

an acre of pond, we’re sucked in.


Copyright © Joyce Peseroff. White Whale Review, issue 4.1

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