Ansley Clark

Ansley Clark is a native of Portland, Oregon and has recently returned from teaching and traveling abroad. She is starting an MFA program in poetry at the University of Colorado at Boulder.


Four Poems (January, 2014. Issue 42.)


Some lush greenery
warm green vines
chanting the collapse
of crumbling buildings
in the halfworld
of glass palaces
and graffiti light
businessmen swinging
through the dusk
calling the swaying
bodies from the sky
Shake the balloons
from the body they say
That's not
a sad thing they say
as humans we must accept
the downward pull
this acceptance will appear
as a multitude
of colored lightspheres
released from all
sky-turned eyes
like an upward stream
of luminous blood
and later this evening
the city will be hushed
the roaming packs
of wild dogs muffled
as though some great
had just taken place.



I'm born long before everyone else.

My new scent charcoal.
My milk the sky.

In the entire world only
the bulbed sound of rain
and one dark river
lights hanging from its surface
where the first humans still sleep.

I run downhill through the trees
my loose heart flapping.

I make little humming noises.

I imagine myself a boy
blow hot breath into his lungs
to give him a fever
then press a cool hand
to his brow.

I feel very calm.

I want to give this a name.

The entire moment
feels breathless
like the make-believe games
that children play.

I say.


I'm born in the time of a great need
for tenderness

fat and aching

our hearth fires scattered
around the lips of the river

like children clinging to any
open woman's skirt

our naked bodies covered
in ash and exploded stars and after

our torch-like animal cries
something beautiful happens!

a city born from the only thing
we can do which is to belong
to ourselves and
what I learn here is

it is most important
to keep going

it is most important to keep
all things going.

From the Plains

He emerged from behind
the woodpile out back

the rain with its primal heedlessness
distilling in our gutters.

That was the week
I had been given one job:

to stand on our property's edge
hold the fence together
with my teeth
and I couldn't even do that right.

But imagine—
the rumors of fire in his skin
for our wet and bony tribe

the flash of red earth
his simple empty
choleric brilliance.

Around the molding kitchen table
we all bowed toward him like fruit.

Tell us about the wildfires oh we want
to make you tell.



On the island the sun
freezes until midnight.

The earth from here looks like a collection
of squares struggling

into their own kind of light
harmless and nonthreatening

and the island people
are extremely beautiful

like slow volcanoes.
I've been doing pretty well here

on my own. I just wish
I could get to sleep.

I'm not going to pretend
I want you alive

I'm just going to pretend
you're frozen somewhere

not moving
until I come back.


I lay out the contents
of my suitcase.

Here is what I have:
some postcards a knife
an orange
some milk.

In my journal:
Bright snow early morning run
feeling pretty good today.

In the vacant yet shrill
icelight I eat the orange.

Then I wipe the juice on my sleeve and sit
on the bed with my hands in my lap.

There are so few moments
of feeling truly powerful.

Here again the long pewed voice
singing over and over of my unbravery.


The moon rises and sets in a thin quick circle
like a string wrapping around a stick.

The postman buckles through the storm
head down a bag of fur strapped to his back.

Reindeer swim in wisps of sinew and oil.

One tiny family light of peat still glowing in town.

On the horizon a departing ship.

What a long time it has been!

All these things which have escaped me.

All these things which have escaped me because
I was not open to them.