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”