Poem Box
by Ann Neuser Lederer

                    A poem is a box. . . .
—Marianne Boruch

A poem is a diorama, little toothpick
bridges, mini plastic dinosaurs,
window slits of colored cellophane

A poem is a present,
glitter and gold toned bows,
swaddled in tan paper bags ironed flat,
and tied with strings

A poem is a page, rectangular or square,
covered with icons, hieroglyphs,
small dark smudges apparently random,
and spaces, spaces

A poem is a stamp, a postage
commemorative, a great master’s masterpiece,
holiday banner, country’s colored flag,
pledge for disease—pink ribbon,
red ribbon—single tree, state bird

A poem is a carton unmarked,
its lid left loose: stuffed with old boots,
stray gloves, hats with sport team logos
a carton closed and taped, marked Toys
in large block letters, all four sides & top

A poem is a box, tiny, enameled,
collecting escaped beads,
rings too tight to wear,
mates of lost earrings,
chains without clasps,
hearts without chains

A poem is an emptied Sucrets can,
hinged lid protecting
desiccated baby teeth,
browned at the roots,
gone from their jaws,
and clinking like coins
against each other and the metal box.


Ann Neuser Lederer was born in Ohio and has also lived and worked
in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Kentucky.  She is the author of three
Approaching Freeze, The Undifferentiated, and
Weaning the Babies—and her poems and creative nonfiction have also
appeared in journals and anthologies such as
The Bedside Guide to No
Tell Motel
, Best of the Net, and The Country Doctor Revisited (Kent
State University Press, 2010).  Lederer is employed as a nurse in

On “Poem Box”:
“Poem Box” surprised me by arriving quickly and unexpectedly,
almost all in one piece.  For some time prior, I had been intrigued
by the wonderful quote by Marianne Boruch.  I love reading
definitions of poetry, but had never before learned one by heart.  
Granted, this definition is small and easy to commit to memory,
but more: I was fascinated by its perfection.  Its five small words
describe a poem just as I envision it: a unique object, carefully
created, then strong enough to stand alone.  Because of the
collection of contents placed into the poem, and the alchemy of
their proximity, the poem box became its own self.  The more I
thought about this, the more examples came to my mind.  Somehow,
even now, I visualize each stanza as though looking at a picture
book.  The experience was that rare delight in poem making, a
poem that seems to create itself.  But not really, of course.  It was
quietly simmering somewhere in the subconscious, watching,
collecting dear tidbits, and waiting for its time to be born.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 6, Number 2
(Fall 2011)

Copyright © 2011
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
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