Feature image by Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weil. Untitled, 1950. Cyanotype, 57 15/16 x 41" (147.3 x 104.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, Gift of Carolyn Brown and Earle Brown. © 2016 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.


Names of girls.
Names of paintings.
Names of horses.

I can’t decide which
I prefer: the struggle
or the boredom.

We have little to say, so Jack asks,
What was the best thing
that happened to you today?

Then on to the worst:
“The Rose & the Thorn.”

I burned my finger on the oven
this morning, burnt
to a blister—

it’s good to remember
how much it hurts.

“A war-torn country.”
This repetition, this reportage.

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is the author of five collections of poetry, essays, and criticism, including The Unreality of Memory & Other Essays (out in August 2020 from FSG Originals); The Word Pretty; L’Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems; and The Self Unstable. Her work has appeared recently in the New York Review of Books, Harper's, A Public Space, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere.