“but all is to be dared, because even a person of poverty…” (from Sappho’s Fragment 31, translated by Anne Carson)

S.D. Lishan

But all is to be dared, because even a person of poverty

wears a garland of longing.


I have painted my eyes and claws in scarlet.

My horse’s nostrils flare.


My bones have been pummeled into dust.

I am a cipher with a serpent’s tongue,


a song without a throat from which to tunnel,

a lungless fire, a breathless heart:


I who have dared for so much,

whose kisses curl around nothing now…


S.D. Lishan is an Associate Professor of English at The Ohio State University. His book of poetry, Body Tapestries (Dream Horse Press), was awarded the Orphic Prize in Poetry. His poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in Measure, Arts & Letters, Kenyon Review, Literati Quarterly, In Posse Review, New England Review, Boulevard, Arts & Letters, Bellingham Review, Barrow Street, Creative Nonfiction, and numerous other literary magazines. He lives in Delaware, Ohio, with his wife, Lynda, and their English Setter, Kracker Jack.