Jeanette Clough







Imagining the Desert Trumpet


It could be the desert trumpet plant tastes like talc,

or how I imagine talc would taste since I have tasted


neither.  But if I did (for this is the work of imagination)

both would be chalky, I imagine.  Because I have not seen


the desert trumpet I can say it will look like kelp dried stiff,

beached forever a long way from water, and slightly


lavender.  The smell is like a newly discovered place

that has not been named, so I imagine the place and its name,


and that it is like the desert trumpet.  The feel is the hard

wings of a beetle I have never touched, and also like


a remembered shell.  The bloom is quiet.  Or rather,

it makes the sound before Joshua trumpeted, I imagine.







Raga 4


Raucous temple monkeys

scope my plastic bag and attack.


Film and water bottles roll.  They steal

only the fruit.  Clever jokers,

prepared to scheme for what they want.


Their leader taps an inattentive demon

on the shoulder:  both of them are needed

for the skirmish at hand.  I am told monkeys


are our allies in the dance that may undo

the world, where stone elephants who have

lost their trunks to gravity or theft


still carry the pillars under which they were carved.

Remove them, and everything will collapse.

Already the masonry tilts.



Credit:  From the author’s collection, Island (Los Angeles, CA:  Red Hen Press, 2007).




Raga 7


Unexpectedly, gongs and flutes.


Dancers in a crust of sequins

portray monsters defeated by monkeys.


Demon and hero look alike until I figure out

one has tusks and the other a tail.


I watch the drama four times.  Five,

counting the mechanical Ramayana warriors


who enact again the unending battle of good

and evil.  Their harmonies luge my outer ear.


The warriors dance past me and wave as they go by.

I recognize them all, in the dance to the end of the world.



Credit:  From the author’s collection, Island (Los Angeles, CA:  Red Hen Press, 2007).












Jeanette Clough is a native of Paterson, New Jersey, and received a graduate degree from the University of Chicago.  She worked for the Getty Research Institute twenty-two years, and now devotes her time to writing and other activities in Los Angeles. Her recent book, Flourish ( was a finalist in the Seismicity (Otis College of Art and Design) and Blue Lynx (Eastern Washington University) annual book competitions.  She is also author of Island (Red Hen), Cantatas (Tebot Bach), and two artist books, Stone and Rx, designed by Tania Baban and published by Conflux Press.


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