Lavinia Singer – Two poems

Orange County, CA

the drought’s come  

brush & scrub
hot orange blanched
to greys & browns
petrified dry-wood
branch spikes skeletal
in a wilderness graveyard
tinder stacks | chucked
litter wait for no one

continue on
the carpool diamond lane
others clogged with singles one
by one we crawl to the city
heart | BEEP of the toll
as the pumpjacks flare
out the glass & oldies
play on K-Earth 101

sun stains seats
gold with skin-ripping
heat | air con numbs
in shadow sweet white
corn sold by Mexicans
—here the fruit once hung!
bulbs cheap all year
plump neon | gone

horizon of roofs
& swimming pools
headlines spell doom
bear attacks | coyotes hunt
dusty streambeds strewn
our daily extinctions
Saddleback Mountain
broods | feel it—

the drought’s come


The Missing Tablet

The fight against illicit trafficking in cultural goods requires the use of practical
tools disseminating information, raising public awareness and preventing illegal exportation. The Emergency Red List of Iraqi Cultural Objects at Risk illustrates categories or types of cultural items that are most likely to be illegally traded.

Cultural Object Example One Sumerian Tablet from Umma
Obverse: lower corner broken; slightly cracked down middle
Reverse: upper edge chipped, many signs obscure; seal impressions, lined

Obverse: Administrative text/temple accounts
              1 skin of a sheep for the son of Lu-dingir the bake
             47 websters, makers of turbans, overseer Ni-kal-la
             5 gin of butter, 4 gin of cheese per day, for 15 days, for god [indecipherable]
             5 sheep, 9 kids, for sacrifice

 Reverse: Nature of text, uncertain
            One who looked on the Imperial Procession
            Through clenched fingers
            Was [made abominable to the Council]
            And went among the Amorites
           Maintaining the King was a hollow jug

           The Amorites who know no grain
           Who know no house nor town,
           The boors of the mountains—
           High as the height of cedars,
           Who dig up truffles
           But do not bend their knees [to cultivate the land]

            Who eat raw meat,
            Who have no house during their lifetime,
            Who are not buried after death—

            Three days journey by boat
            In the garments of cowherds
            He made a ‘Black Palace’ among those people
            In the city of a million soldiers
            Riches in royal measure
            Are buried with him there.


Until recently, Lavinia Singer worked at Enitharmon Press and co-edited Oxford Poetry. She takes on a new role as the Editorial Assistant, Poetry at Faber & Faber in November.