Poems to Solve (excerpts)
May Swenson

Living Tenderly

My body a rounded stone
with a pattern of smooth seams.
My head a short snake,
retractive, projective.
My legs come out of their sleeves
or shrink within,
and so does my chin.
My eyelids are quick clamps.

My back is my roof.

I am always at home. I travel where my house walks.
It is a smooth stone.
It floats within the lake,
or rests in the dust.
My flesh lives tenderly
inside its bone.

A Yellow Circle

A green
is fastened
to the earth

at its apex
a yellow

of silky
The sun
is its mother

the string
is taller
The circle is white

an aureole
of evanescent
the wind
makes breathe

Later still
it is altered
the green
is thicker

the white
on one side

It is a half
the wind lifts away

Southbound on the Freeway

A tourist came in from Orbitville,
parked in the air, and said:

The creatures of this star
are made of metal and glass.

Through the transparent parts
you can see their guts.

Their feet are round and roll
on diagrams--or long

measuring tapes--dark
with white lines.

They have four eyes.
The two in the back are red.

Sometimes you can see a 5-eyed
one, with a red eye turning

on the top of his head.
He must be special-

the others respect him,
and go slow,

when he passes, winding
among them from behind.

They all hiss as they glide,
like inches, down the marked

tapes. Those soft shapes,
shadowy inside

the hard bodies--are they
their guts or their brains?