Thanks to a workshop with David St. John, I heard about a poet who is currently his student at USC. Essy Stone’s book, What It Done to Us, is a group of gripping, tough poems that seem to be written by someone who came up hard and made something of it.
Here’s a sample. Reading it, I wondered if the title came from the Tracy Chapman song, but perhaps not.
At 15, you are skinny & never loved enough,
with the loss of it burning you up & pounding
between your ribs like your daddy’s heavy footsteps
as he comes up on your door. You bite holes
in the sleeves of a hand-me-down homeschooler’s sweatshirt
to sate this hunger, but it don’t fill you,
a little outsider in a brown land—brown without end,
full of brown horses & cattle & trees, the houses wooden
& their tin roofs rusted the same orange-brown
as the clay & the sunburnt skin of the people who live here,
while you try, oh, desperately, to coax something green
into being, to make a thing as green & new as yourself,
or if not green, if not alive, then shiny & mechanical
& humming along fast like your mama’s Singer, Continue reading “Essy Stone”
Though I haven’t read much of her, what I’ve seen, I like. This from Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series:
It’s not that the old are wise
But that we thirst for the wisdom
we had at twenty
when we understood everything
when our brains bubbled
with tingling insights
percolating up from
our brilliant genitals
Continue reading “Alicia Ostriker”
A friend asked that I post more recipes, and this morning I made one of my basic breakfast variations–so delicious.
You may not be able to go out and pick greens from your garden, but any greens will do. In my case I picked baby broccolini and my only two asparagus stalks, sautéed onions and garlic, added herbs, and fried an egg on top with a little cheddar cheese. For crunch I used a little leftover brown rice. To get the egg to set before the vegetables burn, I just cover the pan for a minute or two. Continue reading “Desultory Saturday”
At a workshop this weekend someone brought this poem, by Lynn Emanuel, and I remembered how much I like her work.
Why it took me so long to get the poem up here, I don’t know. The days seem to melt away. Perhaps I should take up drinking:
Frying Trout While Drunk
Mother is drinking to forget a man
who could fill the woods with invitations:
come with me he whispered and she went
in his Nash Rambler, its dash
where her knees turned green
in the radium dials of the 50’s.
When I drink it is always 1953,
bacon wilting in the pan on Cook Street
and mother, wrist deep in red water,
laying a trail from the sink
to a glass of gin and back.
She is a beautiful, unlucky woman
in love with a man of lechery so solid
you could build a table on it
and when you did the blues would come to visit.
I remember all of us awkwardly at dinner,
the dark slung across the porch,
and then mother’s dress falling to the floor,
buttons ticking like seeds spit on a plate.
When I drink I am too much like her—
the knife in one hand and the trout
with a belly white as my wrist.
I have loved you all my life
she told him and it was true
in the same way that all her life
she drank, dedicated to the act itself,
she stood at this stove
and with the care of the very drunk
handed him the plate.
Lynn Emanuel, from Hotel Fiesta
I’m still reading Bullets into Bells, the anthology about gun violence. It’s a remarkable collection. On Saturday we had a local town hall to follow up on the students’ march against gun violence. I realized we think about it almost entirely in terms of the mass events–but every gun death creates a circle of trauma, as this poem explores.
How My Mother Died
My father shook the gun to get the bullet out.
He was a careless man, but only once.
I shouldn’t linger on this, the road rising out of itself,
my father out on Pine Street in the dark,
down on all fours trying to open up his face
with gravel, trying to get down to the tar
of what went wrong by making blood again.
They find him there in a dream of twigs Continue reading “Monday Poem”
This morning I made fried potatoes for breakfast. The potatoes had been in the ground the day before, and I used hand- rendered beef tallow mixed with a little bacon grease for the cooking fat. I cooked the onions and garlic separately.
Continue reading “Side of fries, $100”
It’s like Christmas morning when new chicks arrive. I ordered a new breed, called Cukoo Bluebars, in February, and Tuesday morning, five baby chicks arrived, shipped USPS overnight from Ohio.
I had a brooder all ready for them, and they’ll spend the first two weeks inside before moving to the outdoor brooder. Continue reading “New chicks”
This poem is from Poetry Sunday, in Women’s Voices for Change, a great resource. Usually hosted by Rebecca Foust, the Marin County Poet Laureate, this week’s selection is from another local poet, Susan Cohen. There are three other poems by Agi Mishol, an Israeli poet, on the site, and a brief biography of the author.
The days resemble one another.
The cat’s sharp claws rest
deep within her paws.
In the yard the dogs
gnaw on a rabbit’s skull.
My shadow extends, grows Continue reading “Poetry Monday”