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POETRY NINE SHORTS Wisteria & Fence i. Without the fence, I’m grounded. With the fence I soar, I bloom, blossoms spilling like grapes lavendering the air with perfume. With a wild love I wind tendrils, adorn bare boards, reaching, clinging, twining. I grasp for my support. This climber takes advantage. Its roots are undermining me. Can’t you see I’m already leaning due to its ascendancy? Some day I’ll simply be crushed, It’s like affairs of the heart: there’s a lover and a beloved. For God’s sake, cut the upstart dead! Orchidectomy First you snip the left blossom, then you snip the right. All’s left is soft stem. Dandelions Towheads on the lawn, gray heads by end of August. How soon we vanish. The Dead Historian He spent his days taking time seriously Now it has taken him, seriously. Night Cry from a Zoo Cage Texas Tanka Winter storm warnings. Deep snow in Amarillo. Wrecks on icy roads. Airline passengers stranded. Yellow willows in the snow. Dressed Quails Naked little men from outer space, in sore need of something to wear. There are tens of thousands of my species. So tell me, LordWhy me, why me, why me? Poet/Body Builder Each day at his desk he creates imaginary images of beauty, then goes to the gym to create a poem more ephemeral than any metaphor. Robert Phillips ROBERT PHILLIPS directs the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. His third book of stories, News About People You Know, was recently published by Texas Review Press. Circumstances Beyond Our Control, his seventh collection of poetry, will be published next year by Johns Hopkins University Press. Naomi Shihab Nye. 1/30/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21