Two Poems

Laura Marsh

National Security Agency officers on several occasions have channeled their agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests, U.S. officials said. The practice isn’t frequent — one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it’s common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT.” — The Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2013

It used to be hard to get intel:
It meant the slow construction

of timelines, and receipts spirited
from your coat pocket’s lining.

Data on data was my job: an analyst
just of the times you’re phoning

someone and how long. Since we had access
to all the files, not

to look at yours seemed negligent.
If he calls you three times in ten minutes,

I assume a lover’s tiff.
Background checks, due diligence.

Your emails are short and frequent, pecks
on the cheek. And then they’re lights

from air traffic control’s nest
that strobe at craft on the approach

not to land. Love is clearance.


I have no weight, though I come in bulk.
I run on currencies and exclamations
and types of words that trigger no reply.
My expertise lies in placing small bets,
business propositions, crash diets, love,
pharmaceuticals spelled in numbers.

I am cargo that tips a swaying hulk.

Mistake me for someone you lost touch with,
writing for your help, who needs funds offshore
while, singing from frozen banks, “take pity!”,
nude and criminal, I reassure you:
there can be no harm in a glance at me.

Every day I get through narrow gates.
Fortified Troy couldn’t have seen me
coming short-haired with my mane swishing.
I have left trampled fields and steaming pats
all over before you detect me, too late.

I deliver. Know how to use me and
I will be your laundered notes, assumed name,
retina scan. And piles of unsent messages.

marsh photo1Laura Marsh is an editor at the New York Review of Books. Her poetry has appeared in Acumen, The Rialto and the Salt Book of Younger Poets.


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