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Jeanette Clough's collection, Cantatas, appeared in 2002 from Tebot Bach Press. Among the journals publishing her poetry are Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Nimrod, Ohio Review, Atlanta Review, Pool, Runes, and She is an assistant editor for Solo: A Journal of Poetry, and also curates and co-hosts the monthly Poem.X series in Santa Monica. She has been a featured poet at many California festivals and venues, including the Long Beach, San Luis Obispo, and San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festivals; Barnsdall Art Park, Pasadena Central Library, and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center. Clough was born in Paterson, New Jersey. She received a Masters degree from the University of Chicago and currently works for the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Of her work, Victor D. Infante says, "Her writing is delicate, almost brittle, yet it burns with a power that can only be achieved by one who is speaking the truth." (OC Weekly, March 20-26, 1998, p66). In his introduction to Cantatas, David St. John states, "This is a songbook that maps our hopes and dreams, our accomplishments and out defeats. It is a collection of maturity, beauty, and lasting power."


I begin to discern different styles of carved 
elephants and gods. These have four thick legs 
with room underneath for a pedestal fifth. Here, 
divinity's stone wrist has relaxed beyond nature. 

An immense white elephant flies overhead 
and wraps its belly and legs around my car. 
Above me, the white plumeria. I expect orchids 

and teak, not this grove of star-blossoms 
announced by emissary sweetness 
in the moist air. Five creamy petals 
thicken to a butter center, then 
a thousand thousand times proliferate,
jostling into galaxies suspended overhead.

My head 
reaches the Buddha's immense, crossed 
shins. I could brush my cheek against the fingers 
draped earthward and tipped with gold. His chest fills 
with incense. I've seen it happen --- when stones meditate, 
they assume the shape of breath. Even the dullest pebble
can become the nipple erect on a god's soft breast.


Imagine (but why imagine what is) 

everything in reverse. The world, 
a mirror of light upside down and small 
on every retina. 

Light lives in the present. It cannot be stored 
except mechanically in a bulb or tube. 

Oh, bright discovery that parcels the semblance 
of light. Light 

always leaves its origin.
It travels forward but never back

as far as we know, and farther.

Are the origins, then, dark; black holes
moving away at the same speed

as toward? We are here 
and nowhere else --- two passages 
whose light is swift.

© 2004 Jeanette Clough


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