Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Jane Rosenberg LaForge

The Deer of the Hollywood Hills

Finally this is what it means
to see and not be seen
against the adobe-colored stucco
and saw-toothed palms, their roots
like greedy cottonmouths, suckling
on the dust. But these mammals survive
unlike their sultry cousins, on thistle
and champagne grapes, what the raccoons
consider mere pillage; and on air drenched
in clods and spangled pelts.

They've been abandoned out of habit
as much as out of choice and yet always,
they promise, for just cause
and gracious purpose.

But you cannot indulge in every resonance:
the time you rehearsed on your fellows;
time you were interchangeable, time
you were anonymous, all the time
you pretended your legs were like crutches,
your body a trunk for something flammable
but tethered to current circumstances
so it might be marketed, but the arc,
rise and fall, rise and fall, was never
steep enough.

Since the stick in the rock has
become worthless, and their territory
has become a map of where civilization
accretes past the donated acreage,
the males shelter as females graze
So they can produce milk when prompted;
so their males Will say stormy things,
and meet their Involuntary wants; so when
they bite down on the muscle there is something more
than dirt and maze on their vicious pink tongues.

Baltimore 1985


I remember the air fooling me each morning
that the day would be crisp, laminated,
inviolate of  my powder and cottons. It was
the vacuum that did it,  the gap between
revolving door and the outer atmosphere,
as if I was some kind of a patient, numbered
zero. We had a stereo, a bed, but no other
furniture, and we listened to the glam rock
we missed out on ten years earlier. I weighed
ninety-five points, piss and leaky crotch
included, though the new husband I had
so arduously pursued across the continent
thought I was pig, bruising inner thighs
and crushing his appendix. People laughed
at my bachelor’s, my affect in elevators;
I tried to be a secretary, a researcher,
an apprentice to a bookmaker, but no one
would teach me how to read the results
printed on the back of the dying newspaper.
The future was mine for the asking and
I could be a savior, but I crashed at the job,
the marriage, the banquet of social niceties
meant to last beyond the ennobling disasters.
My last act was to walk barefoot over glass
in sea-worn colors, mixed with the concrete
and poppies that grew white rather than
orange, as if bleached of their fortifying
chemicals. I’d found the solution, and
pronounced it a miracle, only to find out
I was again late to the party, yet punctual
for the debacle.

Jane Rosenberg LaForge's next full-length poetry collection will be Daphne and Her Discontents from Ravenna Press in late 2016 or 2017. A chapbook of poems, In Remembrance of the Life, also is forthcoming from Spruce Alley Press in 2016. She is the author of an experimental memoir, An Unsuitable Princess (Jaded Ibis Press 2014) and four other volumes of poetry. More information is available at