This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features two poems by Paul Legault. 


Gay Orgy

A president cannot pardon itself.
A body cannot bury itself in
the ground or tomb it had its minions build.
There has to be someone to carry it.
Clouds don’t carry water. They are water.
Shells don’t walk the shore, but what they house does.
One in ten thousand baby turtles live
as if Mother Nature forgot a step.
Predators usually come first and last.
The Middle Ages were full of dying,
but so’s everything, so everything keeps
every thing together purposefully
the purpose being being forgotten
so everything can start again again.


New Basket

The old basket wasn’t full of chickens.
Time’s stopped working right. Now it works for me.
I was floating in a cactus garden
like a person-shaped balloon in July.
You came in like a wind from under me.
I feel like Bette Midler in a bathhouse
famously ready to be discovered.
Newfoundland is a dumb name for a place.
Life was already there. Death was. Land, ho.
A bargain is when you don’t ask for it.
Point the gun at the Earth where you were born,
they say. They say you have your mother’s eye,
her third one. Tell me what you see happens
isn’t as bad as it already is.



Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).