LitBirthdays September 5, 2014

Alicia Ostriker 5
2014 National Book Festival Report

The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog

by Alicia Ostriker

Alicia Ostriker reads some of her poems.

Long Busy Day

Espresso bubbles, I shout
Breakfast in a minute


The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog

To be blessed said the old woman
is to live and work so hard
God’s love washes right through you
like milk through a cow


West Fourth Street

The sycamores are leafing out
on west fourth street and I am weirdly old


Deer Walk Upon Our Mountains

When they see me said the old woman
they stop where they are
and gaze into my eyes for as long
as I am willing to stand there


Persephone to Demeter

You up there on the surface
poor sad woman ratty old quiltyou understand nothing
of the rapture of libertyno I am not afraid of the subway
or the smell of piss


The Drink Triptych

Well what can I say
said the old woman
giggling a bit
a glass or three of wine was normal at dinner
but one also enjoyed martinis


Demeter to Persephone

I watched you walking up out of that holeAll day it had been raining
in that field in Southern Italyrain beating down making puddles in the mud
hissing down on rocks from a sky enraged


The Promise Triptych

I promised myself
said the old woman
that I would always remember
the afternoon I slow-danced naked with him
in his cheesy apartment
on St. Mark’s Place


Lais to Aphrodite

They called you the laughing one
Aphrodite, honey womanI suppose because you laugh when our hearts crack
like red eggs. and we want to die


In War Time

Ah here you are at last
sorry about the guards
I hope they didn’t give you much trouble
I was afraid you’d never make it
across the river before curfew
let me take your coats



The optimists among us
taking heart because it is spring
skip along
attending their meetings
signing their e-mail petitions
marching with their satiric signs


Paw on Your Lap

Remember the funniest place we ever made love
a pair of economy seats on an overnight to London
we imagined nobody noticed


From the description:
In a voice absolutely her own—wild, earthy, irreverent, full of humor and surprise—Ostriker takes on nothing less than what it feels like to be alive.

— Joan Larkin

From reader reviews:

I hardly ever write reviews, although I’m an avid reader, especially of poetry, and of contemporary American poetry. But Alicia Suskin Ostriker’s “The Old Woman, the Tulip and the Dog” is such a wonderful discovery for me that I needed to write down a couple of words. It’s a new favorite of mine, and I’m buying copies to give as gifts. There is so much humor, wit and compassion in these verses, as if the author were looking at three different natures/perspectives (the old woman’s, the tulip’s and the dog’s) and witnessing how, in the end, they share so much – being at times laughable, foolish, adorable, vain, lovely, wise, mysterious, captivating. The book is a gem.

— Gabriela Sasaki


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