Deborah Landau
Soft Targets

It was good getting drunk in the undulant city.

Whiskey lopping off the day’s fear.


Dawn came with an element of Xanax.

Dusk came and I dumbed myself down.


Where there were brides, grooms--

bored boysoldiers with iphones and guns.


I’m a soft target, you’re a soft target,

and the city has a hundred hundred thousand softs.


The pervious skin, the softness of the face,

the wrist inners, the hips, the lips, the tongue,


the global body,

its infinite permute softnesses.




Soft targets, soft readers, drinkers,

pedestrians in rain--


In the failing light we walked out

and now we share a room with it


(would you like to read to me in the soft,

would you like to enter me in the soft,


would you like a lunch of me in the soft,

in its long delirium?)


The good news is we have each other.

The bad news is: Kalashnikov assault rifles,


a submachine gun, pistols, ammunition,

and four boxes packed with thousands of small steel balls.





O you who want to slaughter us, we’ll be dead soon

enough what’s the rush.


And this our only world.

As you can see it has a problem.


As you can see the citizens are hanging heavy.

The citizens’ minds are out.


Eros, eros, in Paris we stayed all night

in a seraphic cocktail haze


despite the blacked out theater,

the shuttered panes.


Tonight we’re the most tender of soft targets,

reclining by the river pulpy with alcohol and all a-sloth.


Monsieur can we get a few more?

There are unmistakable signs of trouble,


but we have days and days still.

Let’s be giddy, maybe. Time lights a little fire.


We are animal hungry down to our delicate bones.

O beautiful habits of living, let me dwell on you awhile.



Found In Volume 47, No. 05
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  • deborah landau soho june 15th 2018 jacqueline mia foster photography 52 2
Deborah Landau
About the Author

Deborah Landau’s fourth collection of poems, Soft Targets, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in spring 2019. The recipient of a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, she lives in Brooklyn and directs the Creative Writing Program at NYU.