Clinical Thermometer Set with Moonstone

By Alice Notley b. 1945 Alice Notley
I don’t have any sentiments
would somebodything thirst my quench
how about
about my mediocrity of character? I dance
with the dead divinely
                                 in my dreams
I’m stricken deaf when I mention it my babies
cry they want everything quick! here. un-
                  as character should be
      like the purpurine it needs must be carved in,   

Have you heard of the roguess elephant with the   
brilliant diamond eyes? She is the puppet
of the dictionary
                           where is her beautiful orange   
            puppy foot!      
                                 When your father dies
he doesn’t let you swoon   
                                       into aventurine or spray   
of lily (pearls) of the valley
you do not bifurcate
                               you may
                   play yourself to your camp heroine   
self—play it Lady play
       but delete no matter
       thank you for breakfast
       today we will visit with the ear syringe   
       be the current density      
                                           honey flower
                                           ice egg
I love you as a fan loves air. oops it’s I
                vice-versa I
                                  told you about that
                           She is a bezel
                           awaiting the plop of a   
                           ruby she must grow   

and I can’t end and I can’t lie
               He held him in his own heart then   
               may I in my eye now me

Alice Notley, “Clinical Thermometer Set with Moonstone” from Alice Ordered Me to Be Made (Yellow Press Books, 1976). Copyright © 1976 by Alice Notley. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Alice Ordered Me to Be Made (1976)

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Poet Alice Notley b. 1945

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Alice  Notley


Alice Notley has become one of America’s greatest living poets. She has long written in narrative and epic and genre-bending modes to discover new ways to explore the nature of the self and the social and cultural importance of disobedience. The artist Rudy Burckhardt once wrote that Notley may be “our present-day Homer.” 

Notley was born in Arizona and grew up in Needles, California. After earning her BA from Barnard College and . . .

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