Paul Lieber
     Paul Lieber, poet and actor, hosts the long-running KPFK radio program “Why Poetry?” “It’s an attempt to demystify poetry and then mystify it again.”
     For a year or two I was in the same workshop as Paul Lieber. I remember how highly thought-of his work was then, as it is now. I remember what he does to a room when he sits or stands in it.  Paul writes dirty realism better than most dirty realists and reads with the trained voice of a gifted actor. Whether he’s in the aquarium with his small son or backstage on Broadway or in the desert admiring the stars in the night sky, what shines through strongest in his work is its unmistakable masculine tenderness intensified by a cunning way with words that succeeds in not calling undue attention to itself. For those new to poetry, Paul’s work is a smooth way in. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate National Poetry Month than by showcasing the work of this tough and shy and elegant and life-affirming artist.  


But Didn’t Roy Orbison Die of Cancer

Maybe Pretty Woman
will shrink a tumor
so I turn up the TV
and she says
with eyes closed,
"we could dance to this"

If only.

"Look at my tongue,"
and she sticks out
an orange pitted coat
nickel thick and I'd lick

those side effects
if she'd ask me,
swallow the crust
while Roy sings

all I can do is dream you.

I pray to the common place
where breath and Roy's voice
begin, beg for the cure
while Roy plans
to squeeze Claudette

to death and my sister
is an hour past
her morphine pill,
but she's out so I lower

your baby doesn't love
you anymore,

as Roy's mouth opens
below sunglasses
while the body
hardly budges.


Originally published in New York Quarterly, No. 62 


2010 Paul Lieber
Paul Lieber was a Featured Poet who read her poetry at the April 2010 Second Sunday Poetry Series