Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow – Dried Mangoes

Edlow profile Dec 2020

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume One, December 2020.

Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow is the author of Horn Section All Day Every Day, a 2020 Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award Finalist, and The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor (Salmon Poetry, 2018 and 2012, respectively). Honors include: the Red Hen Press Poetry Award, Tusculum Review Prize, Willow Review Prize, a Beullah Rose/Smartish Pace Prize, and three Pushcart Prize nominations, two of which were nominations from the Pushcart Prize Board of Contributing Editors. Recent poetry is in or new poetry is forthcoming from Plume Poetry 7 Anthology, The American Journal of Poetry, Gargoyle, Hotel Amerika, Plume, Salamander, The Ilanot Review, and Mudfish Literary Magazine 22. She is working on her third full-length poetry collection. Visit her at

Dried Mangoes

Delicious like this, not messy juicy, not
too sweet they mask their tang. Ever since thinking
man came on the scene even luscious
mangoes weren’t safe from being fiddled with.
Hark, you! a bold motorist once
urged: Turn your head around and look—
There is no blind spot!
Earth gives everything but light
and in return we give it convenient respect.
No wherewithal to scheme out the asteroid
that fingers our address
so earth does its thing. Spinning. And overtipping
ever so slimly ever so rarely. Then undertipping
on that fantastic wobbly axis
to neutralize like self-cleaning systemic anatomy. Thank you
for the weather. Whether we can intervene on the asteroid Apophis,
go ahead and guess. One
person or another will try to tell you
it is they who are assailed or jobbed or maligned
or forsaken
and yes, everyone deserves the same amount
of listen
but listen.
I wish I could assert authoritatively somebody has got it
better. I would point to that person, that crowd, the entire
vast league of the mutual breathing.
Any rest of the full circle might then lament
with unfavorite-child distaste—Yes! we do drive bricks for wheels—
a swank time waste. No such colossal customer exists.
Turn your head around.
We are all of us
Sit down with the improbable me.
Maybe we can embark again by being
on fireflies.
Or on the inexhaustible patience of the green heron
with the blue Mohawk, at the block fence beside the
petite Yellow Lady Banks climbing vines, arrested
forever, then snapping up a five-inch lizard in its bill
jockeying it about a bit and swallowing it whole.

Vibe Organic

Is this what pattern is? At the bedside stand olive-
hued leaves with big personalities list inward

at your unrestricted ear, a yielding lightless access
which just yesterday a puckish gray moth madly

swooped at your naked shoulder to get to also,
though its impromptu cluttering method made

your palm slam.
A brazen attempt to tunnel a home out of you.

In the hushed bed your best friend sleeps.  If you nudge
him from sound slumber, he will stir, (then, rumble):

I had to move the hair out of someone’s eyes
But it wasn’t Robert this time
Or pretty Cassie—all her spangly curls

Curious his words, like the puzzling silver dots
spattered on these leaf surfaces, as if a painter had shaken
her brush at the plant in a wild covenant for talent.

Their underneaths blush ultra-purple from the burden
of holding title to malevolent roots, and the sketchy appetite

for bedfellows. Shoots in plum jackets. A plant’s inclination
is to be lured to an overbright star. The dark-

skinned man’s hairs on the linen pillow act
like tendrils, such effort at funneling into threadwork,

grasping hold, making cavernous company. Tender
the protector, protect the tended. Alliances and allowances.

Recently, you were privy to someone predicting someone will
discover how we might all learn to hear, no hold up—

rather, it was, we might all learn to breathe land.

© Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow