LEE UPTON's fourth book of poetry, Civilian Histories, appeared in 2000 from the University of Georgia Press.  Her third book of literary criticism, The Muse of Abandonment, was published by Bucknell University Press.  Her poetry has appeared in recent months in the New Republic, the American Poetry Review, and the Denver Quarterly, and is forthcoming in The Atlantic Monthly and The Harvard Review.

That I find Larry sexual is not something I would until now be likely to
Larry looks as bedeviled as an ambassador or a man with a mortgage.
His eyes want to spring out of his skull,
his hair rises perpetually on end.  There's no lull
for Larry.  He's well-meaning husband material,
losing every pie fight, dipping low on an aerial,
spitting chicken feathers.  Even when he's happy
he looks harried, even when there are dames on his lap.
The gods in heaven confess they make mistakes.
Larry takes it hard.  Slapstick.
Everybody says: that's just life, speeded up,
eating the shell of the oyster,
continuing on to the napkin, the plate (it gets worse, sir),
being doused in liquid cement, sat on by a horse.

While Curly is, of course, everybody's favorite,
and Mo is scary,
I mean truly frightening even,
unlike Larry,
a man you can count on never to relax.
Larry who makes worry a picnic with fire ants,
followed by a hike with bears.
Curly gets all the good lines and swears:
Soitenly, soitenly, soitenly.
What's certain for Larry?
Quiet, desperate uncertainty,
that's Larry's.  Which is what I like about Larry.
As well as
the suspicion that frightening him would be exceedingly pleasant.

Lee Upton


Liegeman to the Dane--
eruptions, draughts of Rhenish.
The yakker one row back,
obsessed with his father,
talks over the plot and thinks
he knows what's coming.
He intercedes, he reverses the acts.
"You are as good as a chorus, my lord."
Consciousness is a boor.
It always has something to say.

Lee Upton