Hi everyone! Happy (late) Monday! I know it’s been a really long time since we did this… I’m currently working on a piece called “The Rock I’ve Been Living Under” for my author site to discuss some of the reason I’ve been so MIA the last few months… but just the same, I wish I hadn’t gotten away from posting poems, fiction, and prompts every week. It really did bring me joy, and I’m looking forward to doing it again.
So to get us started right, Kalamazoo is hosting its annual Poetry Festival this upcoming weekend, and their guest of honor is the wonderful Diane Seuss. I have loved her work for years, and this won’t be the first—or I’m sure, the last—time that I will share her work on either of my sites. But to celebrate the upcoming Festival, and to invite WRB and its Poetry in Motion back onto the scene, I give you: the immutable Diane Seuss.
BACKYARD SONG, appeared on Poetry, 2017
Since it’s just me here I’ve
found the back and stayed
there most of the time, in
rain and snow and the
no-moon nights, dodging the front
I used to put up like a yard
gussied and groomed, all
edged and flower-lined, my
Uncorked, I had a thought: I
want the want
I dreamed of wanting once, a
quarter cup of sneak-peek
at what prowls in the back, at
what sings in the
wet rag space behind the garage, back
where the rabbits nest, where
I smell something soupish, sour and dank and it’s
filled with weeds like rough
cat tongues and
the wind is unfostered, untended,
now that it’s just me here and
I am so hungry
for the song that grows tall like a weed
grows, and grows.
When I was a
my ma said a woman gets
tired and sick
of the front yard, of
kissing the backside of a
WOLF LAKE, WHITE GOWN BLOWN OPEN, from Wolf Lake, white gown blown open, 2010
White sky, a tinge of blue,
birds like silver crucifixes
children wear at their First Communion—
the lake, melted candelabra—
no wind, no dust of summer moths, no weeping.
Lichen sleeps like fur on a dead thing
and the bones of the trees don’t creak
and the woody stems of the cattails hold
the earth steady—
I once fished here, bass after bass,
shined like the flashlight down their throats
and saw all the way to the gold ovaries,
gill slits like louvered blinds
letting out light—
meat, heart, memory.
The boat was the green of naiveté,
the oars mismatched,
and who was that girl—a bride—
and releasing nothing?
Jack in the Pulpit breaks through.
Purple veins comb the spathe, then the spadex
furred-over with male and female blooms
and the cone of firm red berries—
and the trillium’s white gown blown open—
and the lapping sound of water,
like a dog compelled to lick itself.
Lake infested with black swans,
beaks breaking the surface tension
of the water
then pulling out, swallowing down
a writhing fish, another,
There is mist, there is a smudge of moonlight on the water—
lake the color of the groom’s Italian leather shoes.
I grind against him on the muddy edge,
open the gold buttons to get to the skin,
the throbbing lip and tongue and cock—
flesh, right now, the wet smear of him
on my palm and lips and inside me,
inside, where I live, right now bitter with him,
dandelion juice, phosphorous,
muck, milk, food—
and beneath us snail shells burst
like the skulls of the dead in the crematorium.
There is body, there is experience, there is narrative,
there is idea, memory, philosophy, love—
and there are gods
and there are the operas of the gods—
there is desire
and desire’s cold blue-eyed twin—
and this place in-between—water,
weeds bound like tangled fishing line,
bones washed clean,
and ghosts, laced and corseted, dragging
their anchors and sinkers and veils.
IT BLOWS YOU HOLLOW, from It Blows You Hollow, 1998
It takes your bones to bed,
tongues out the marrow.
Says it will meet you halfway,
a hotel deep in Oklahoma
where you’ll get adjoining rooms
and have a couple of nervous
breakdowns. It’s a no-show, waylaid.
It orders the venison sausage,
the lamb, the infant in puff
pastry, picks its pretty white
teeth with the pins from your little
sister’s hair. Churns you till you
congeal, till the cream goes hard,
courts you till you’ve got a hard-on,
bangs your machine with its hips till you tilt,
your flippers frozen. Your heart’s a tilt-a-whirl,
throwing off steam into the frigid night,
spinning heartsick, heartbreak.
It dances close with its hands
on your nipples, immaculately conceives you
and runs off with the kid in the night,
wears five watches on each arm, pillaged
from your ancestors, innocent and burned,
wrestles with your mother, gets your father
to confess his infidelities at Sunday dinner,
puts its fist in the cake, picks the buttercream
crucifixes off the hot cross buns,
teaches brother to piss his name into the snow,
shaves his head, needles him till he’s tattooed.
It grows gorgeous on its deathbed,
rises gloriously to the occasion,
wills you its curls, its secret codes,
licks your fingerprints like a creamy cat,
dies with the grace of the curtain-pull at the golden opera,
clasps its hands, kisses Jesus on the lips, its body
lit from within like a fawnskin lampshade.
And all you want to do is revive it. You’ll write
circles around it, half-assed parables halfway told,
with bandaged hands, with all the bones
in your face showing, by god,
you’ll make a religion of it.
Until Later, Best ~ from me