Monday, November 11, 2019

insect dreams, ghost cantos

Earlier this year, I mentioned it was the 15th birthday of my first little chap Bloody Mary. Because new work was piling up like hotcakes in the fall of 2004, it is also the anniversary of another slim little self-issued volume called belladonna. At the time, I was still waiting on the publication of The Archaeologists Daughter, which wouldn't be out til the next year, but I was doing a lot of readings on the heels of winning a prize from the Poetry Center of Chicago and had burned through two printings of Bloody Mary.  It would be another year until the fever almanac was even accepted by Ghost Road, and another until it was published..   I decided, since I was getting into the full swing of chap printing as dgp issued its first two titles, that I'd release another small edition of more recent work to distribute at readings and such.

The poems inside are work written in the span of 2003-2004, a time in which I was just beginning my MFA studies--which means they are a little weird in their straddle of more lyrical work I was doing up til then, and a little more innovation I was beginning to attempt as I read a bit more widely for my coursework.  So some of it is a little rough.  Since I'm working on digitally making stuff available, I thought I might do that, but then realized there is very little in there of quality that did not wind up in the fever almanac, save a few random pieces, including the one below.  This is, in fact, one of the pieces that landed me the aforementioned prize, but I remembered my entire MFA workshop, including the teacher, hated it. It didn't really fit in with the first full-length book, and then, later, didn't really fit with the subsequent one either, so never quite made it anywhere else.  While the poems are sometimes a bot heavy handed and wrought, the cover features an image from Alaina Burr-Stone, who later provided cover artwork for the fever almanac.

They live on fire, the burning girls,
trade winds, broken fibula,
impossible symmetry.
Think exclusion: five disciplines, ordering,
my fingers raw, this curving away 
from stillness, how a body becomes
an apology, 
bend, bending.
She is only this dark
feed across canvas, a furthering, 
azaleas harbored, languid anklebone,
sudden water.
The daughters are heavy
as breath in darkened rooms,
the flutter, the flutter, the feud. 
A translation of insect dreams,
ghost cantos,
circadian crescendo.
Still they love the hunger
poems, compendium,
the difficult swimming.
In syllables, distortions,
night makes a landscape
ecstatic, a prayer.
Her wreckage is lineage.

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