Three Sisters, Los Angeles

1.

Head to her knees, her back’s to the statue
of Beethoven brooding, his back to yanks
she’s giving her hair, taking the veil

of gray by the fistful in Pershing Square
under a fan palm, skirt of dead fronds
and high-rise beyond.

2.

She on a bench shadowed by the dome
Chaplin cast as Dictator backdrop,
her purple hat cardboard

elastically chinstrapped by the big heads
of Jackie and Mack, the Robinson brothers,
Jackie facing sunrise

looking to Brooklyn, Mack facing her
wailing out Why at first light on Sunday,
Why oh me why sobbed at the sky.

3.

Where Avenue meets Boulevard
she’s at the bus stop under its shelter
hugging a rabbit, faded stuffed pink,

to kiss and to talk to, whisper a nickname
as the bad traffic muffles her chanting
a dollar one dollar a dollar for food

Stephen Cushman

Stephen Cushman

Stephen Cushman is Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at the University of Virginia. His most recent book is The Generals’ Civil War: What Their Memoirs Can Teach Us Today (University of North Carolina Press, 2021). Author of several volumes of verse, he is general editor of the fourth edition of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (2012). Cushman has been a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, a Fulbright Teaching Fellow in Greece, and Rogers Distinguished Fellow at the Huntington Library.LSU Press will publish his next book of poems, Keep the Feast, in 2022.
Stephen Cushman

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Author: Stephen Cushman

Stephen Cushman is Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at the University of Virginia. His most recent book is The Generals’ Civil War: What Their Memoirs Can Teach Us Today (University of North Carolina Press, 2021). Author of several volumes of verse, he is general editor of the fourth edition of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (2012). Cushman has been a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, a Fulbright Teaching Fellow in Greece, and Rogers Distinguished Fellow at the Huntington Library. LSU Press will publish his next book of poems, Keep the Feast, in 2022.