Poems and Texts

Excerpt from SOFT TARGETS by Deborah Landau



Into the sheets we slipped, a crisis 

affixing us to each other again and again.

Womb was I, turned out. 

The babies were a transcript of our making, 

a panorama of life on its back. 

Thrice I plunked out the humans and hung them to dry

until we’d had enough of such extravagant weather 

and lay there thinking of the bed, 

how much of life happens there.

At the center of everything the piquant transitory joy 

from this even the charred wrecks

even the dahlmers nazis bin ladens all flesh 

fleshed out of wild unmanageable Eros

(we’re always a bit dirty with it)


In the birth room you couldn’t think,
you were a single moan and tangle,

you were an agony, maybe,
but also had wings like never before. 

Welcome to the love bazaar,
let’s dip back into it again, virility! 

Pheromonal lure of silk slipping off skin,
excessive again his kiss, her shudder, 

as snow petals down a lace of white flowers
and our baby sleeps in her indigo crib. 

Such a reckless act, to pop out a human
with the jaws of the world set to kill.


And she arrived before dawn, staring straight —
her job: to eat what exists. 

Any caress is precious, exaltation
in the breathing room, a lifeforce–

who knew our brush strokes had been so precise,
greening darkness with this young vine,

and this new pain, to slow time —
drew more and more from the nub of her

until she was herself,
emerged ready to live her one life

and she seemed friendly,
looking sideways as I swiped her clean.

Honey, here are your limbs,
we are not too late. 

Deborah Landau

Deborah Landau is the author of four books of poetry. She was educated at Stanford, Columbia, and Brown, where she earned her PhD. She is a professor and director of the Creative Writing Program at New York University, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, sons, and daughter.

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