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A. M. Juster

A two-time winner of the Howard Nemerov Award sponsored by The Formalist, A. M. Juster's collection of Petrarch translations, Longing For Laura, was published in a handlettered edition by Birch Brook Press in 2001. Juster's poems and translations have appeared or will soon appear in The Paris Review, Carolina Quarterly, South Carolina Review, Michigan Quarterly Review and many other publications, and he will be the featured poet in an upcoming issue of Light. Rachel Hadas recently selected Juster's manuscript, The Secret Language Of Women, as the winner of the Richard Wilbur Award sponsored by the University of Evansville Press. Publication is scheduled for mid-2003.


The other frogs consider me aloof
And mock each out-of-season mating call,
But I regard my plight as living proof
That faith can foster something magical.
So crouching patiently above the scum
With chin uplifted, eyelids low and still,
I wait for my redeeming love to come.
With numbing numbers cruelly reduced
To caviar for snacking perch and trout,
Dessert for weary birds before they roost
Or toys that idle boys have caught for sport,
It all confirms my sense of destiny.
Someday she will appear to grace this plot
And recognize the manifest in me.

This poem appeared in The Formalist and was a finalist for the 1996 Nemerov Award.

Moscow Zoo

We saw the mass grave at the Moscow Zoo.
A sullen man dug up a human skull
Then held it high for journalists to view.
Forensic specialists arrived to cull
Remains and clues from this forgotten plot
On which the zoo still plans to cage a bear.
The experts guessed these prisoners were shot
For special reasons; no one was aware
Of comparable scenes at urban sites.
No one knew if these bones belonged to spies,
Suspected Jews or zealous Trotskyites,
So none of us displayed the least surprise
When bureaucrats emerged from quiet cars
To hint this might have been the work of czars

This poem appeared in The Formalist and won the 1995 Nemerov Award.

Night Snow

I wondered why the blankets were so lacking,
And then I saw my window brightly glow.
With night long gone, I knew we had deep snow,
For through the calm the bamboo trees were cracking.

Translated from the Chinese of Po-Chu-i.
This poem appeared in The Formalist.

Hoshioka Teahouse

A waif in rags, her skin like ghostly jade,
Adds light to Hoshioka' s gilded streets.
Loud drunken songs and slow night dances fade,
Replaced by poems in soft but soulful beats.

Translated from the Chinese of Liu E.
This poem appeared in The Formalist.

Cancer Prayer

Dear Lord,
                   Please flood her nerves with sedatives
and keep her strong enough to crack a smile
so disbelieving friends and relatives
can temporarily sustain denial.

Please smite that intern in oncology
who craves approval from department heads

Please ease her urge to vomit; let there be
kind but flirtatious men in nearby beds.
Given her hair, consider amnesty
for sins of vanity; make mirrors vanish.
Surround her with forgiving family
and nurses not too numb to cry. Please banish
trite consolations; take her in one swift
and gentle motion as your final gift.

This poem appeared in Edge City Review.

To A Painting Of Echo

Foolish artist, why must you sketch my face
And hound a goddess eyes cannot detect?
I am the daughter born of Speech and Space,
Babble's mother, a voiceless intellect.
I snatch a word before it disappears
Then mimic mindlessly what I have found.
I am Echo—I live within your ears.
If you believe you can paint me, paint sound.

Translated from the Latin of Ausonius.
This poem appeared in The Formalist.

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