aslant: (elle s'amuse)
8. Our Andromeda, Brenda Shaughnessy (2012)

I already gushed about Brenda Shaughnessy last week, and here I am again to tell you she's an incredible poet, sometimes funny with her wordplay and then just as suddenly she'll gut you with something. Last week I quoted a good bit of her Liquid Flesh, which really spoke to me about the kind of agony of depletion and confusion with a newborn, tiny self alone with a tiny self. The reviewers are right, there is also a lot of good stuff in here about sisters, lovers gone, her family, but the strongest section to me was the last section, eponymously titled with its final and longest poem that is also the name of the book, Our Andromeda (something about this name within name with name was deeply satisfying in the same way her poetry was). The whole section is about her son, Calvin, from different angles, all about his existence, his traumatic brain injury (a midwife birth in a hospital) that rendered him unable to walk or speak, his early life, and her imagining of alternate worlds for him and for herself as a mother. (You can read a few more details about it in this excellent interview with her and her husband, the poet Craig Morgan Teicher.) In Our Andromeda (the poem itself) she eviscerates herself for naivete, her friends and family for being distant, god for being evil, probability for being cruel, but there's so much more in this poem that I loved, it's not all bitterness, there is excruciating love, too. One of my favorite lines: The truth is you are the truth, / a child born to a liar who is learning / to change. Or how about the long list of what exactly would I be blaming God for, which inserts among mundane administrative missteps the line Setting things in motion so that / this poem would be written? There's a lot more in this collection than just motherhood, that's just the bit that speaks the most to me right now, of course. Highly recommended.


Apr. 4th, 2005 04:21 pm
aslant: (Default)
[another poem towards which i feel nothing but ambiguousness.]


what i've been contemplating is the hazard-
ous cause-effect ladder of doubt

a spasm awake in a
night so sudden and heartbeaten;

even my nose has given me cause
for suspicion, an effect i've no doubt
is as false as a ladderless scaffold

aloft, aloof.
what i'm getting at is no matter
of eyesight, no manner of postured gaits
or careful shoulders thrown back

mirror please turn your eye
or at the very least give me
a moment here to freshen up

in the night we have all woken genetically
with a gasp and a shudder (you have seen
a platform slip away, a sidewalk curb missed)
somehow in falling through that dream
into stunned wakefulness

in a dark split by venetianed streetlight
somehow we are all the same creature
all grateful in the same half-awake measure

what i don't want is that twitch of awake
to follow me from the dusty world in
to bright doubt-full vigilance but lately
it's been following me any way

aslant: (Default)
fixed-syllable (per)

per our old walled land lies a spill by
hour need in sight of salt and pith and warp
seed eight fish dead in a corn row even or
ate long strides through a wood at the dawn
long head or nose or lank gold ears
heed thoughts of split things all split
though herds sunk in mud are not seen are
heard longed sensed un split like wood
lagged ate sung slept sunk in mud
ate seed or bird wing or gall or pith
need hour long pond waves or tide years
our one wall lies down in a red split mud
aslant: (Default)
collaborative dinnerparty poem by [ profile] mthrtongue, [ profile] lazurstzthmt, [ profile] aslant, [ profile] glimmerkirk, [ profile] kore, [ profile] slowmend.

p. 22 & p. 129

symphony says words you cannot
notre arms, limbs, planes in symmetry & symphony--
territory's all along this plane, no trees
Spain is barren territory,
oil and her memory, days + days of Spain
complain or fall silent, fall loud, eat a day of oil
androidds eat it and children never complain
mentioned the waitress, the businessman, the androids.
fever-awed that virgin dawn: fore-mentioned
white dawns were bright as gods, as scarlet fever,
bathrooms also as you remember them, white
long spun clouds, thick in gradeschool bathrooms,
under-lip of slim porcelain sinks, still windows long
victorious, the endless day ran under
similar windows, no view ever as victorious,
employment has not made to be as similar
black windows. showing reflections, light employment
gather y'all natives under this wandering black
language, softening of human sounds, gather
trumpeters beneath where the window wanders language
head toward anything like dawn, anything worthy of trumpeters,
church even smells like that, feels like a hand
law. driven by the belly, constrained by church
course there were hazels & bloods, things like mark & law
pastoral couples who wished to believe, of course,
the damned, they dream pastoral
tribute to be paid darling; eye for eye for thee
monde, who loves & loathes & leaves tribute,
organist comes a-calling and says it, monde.
women were like that. tomorrow the organist
quotations were not given at that time. for women
girls, white crones, robbed, time for quotations
oar whittles & our forgetfulness or something; something sweet for the girls
ballet and peppermint and french cocoa, boring as an oar
sentiment is going to go eating at the ballet
monotony of gestures, casual sentiment
enumerated the sequence of monotony
pull, pull, pull my oar calluses are pitch enumerated
priceless moment & our window of knowledge & oak oar follows pull
gallery of my forgetfulness; like a hand inexpliccably priceless.
marriage disappears into the long folding gallery
comfortable ceremonies, light footed marriage
variations on the lung power of infants, comfortable
continuations. blind table cloths, cheques and stripe variations
pairs of children lined up in curves dancing & dancing & dancing in continuations.
aslant: (Default)
this is a poem for [ profile] mthrtongue, who asked, what should a poem not do? what can't a poem do? and i said, a poem probably can't run for president, or get a social security number, or have a bank account. she challenged me to write a poem that actually did that, so i wrote this.

A story about a poem )
aslant: (Default)
a dangerous evening. bed collapse, fitful blue hour in which i recalled every terrible previous blue hour. j came home late. belatedly in a dark room i choked on tea, hungry. unable & angry at comfort. & those imagistic destructions; being crushed by carving knives & forks, ground into a fine dust.

it isn't enough to make something tender
marry anything difficult.
there is nothing that cannot be made vicious, anymore.


break it down
dead dry thing of straw.
push down on the ribs
so they compress like
clasped hands, folded fingers.
radius ulna humerous
tibia fibula femur
they're kindling. break in half,
stack them by the back door.
remove the bowl of hips & crack it
it never held a thing

nest the halves with the cranium,
imperfect egg, the liquids drain quickly.
the vertebrae stack is a trick:
telescope it down, careful
not to jam the mechanism.
all the little tarsals & metatarsals
can be crushed into a flour, with patience.
use nested patellas & scapulas to hold the leftovers.
for example, the heart,
which for sanitation purposes
we reccommend burning (to avoid contamination)
at high heat (you understand).


not sterling silver on china but stainless steel on glazed pfaltzgraf; that echoing scrape you hear down to your tooth roots that vicious
molecular shriek.
aslant: (Default)
[sun falling across my eyes in this bed
like a hot cloth, a warm blindfold]


what you want is the branch-dancing wind
to come through the window to you,
with that staggered thrash and dip of limbs

you want a hand of winter wind to reach in,
jove's chill palm
freezing the flesh from you

pale finished chrysalis,
stale moth's shell;
a hand to push down the shelf of ribs

to the jut of hips and
empty the bowl of your bones
(upended pitcher

dry river bed,
abandoned nest in a high tree,
spindle of cold)

you want wind to scatter self
like ash from an open flue,
a flickering immolation

on this sun that pierces, pierces,
impatient vividness,
brief and heatless winter light.
aslant: (Default)
you spend & spend
[waste & waste]
warmth into the empty air
where it cannot linger.

everything drops around you;
trees & sticks
birds, skies

the world falls away
like this
branches from trees
like warm breath from a mouth.

a dun falcon is ushered away
by a cacaphony of ravens
their black fat bellies

their lawn strut &
the boredom of rot.

from trees they harass the sky
sit ponderous
the politic patrician gleam in their eyes
it all
comes to a close
& a death

unwearied sharp beaks still on the whetstone
of the season of terminal chill.

the season slopes & spends grim into winter;
& this heap of fallen things into frost.

the wash

Oct. 9th, 2001 01:55 pm
aslant: (Default)
it lies around us like a cloud
a world we do not see.
--harriet beecher stowe

the world is well-timed.
you should know this by now:
the bell of glass that cracks in your hand,
in the sink, slippage and impact,
a brief spill of shards.
you should know by now the tricky feel of soap,
the way friction can loose glass from the hands
in a half-second, a momentary pause.

you wake from what you do
to the sound of sudden fracture.

in weak steam under the lukewarm tap
you wait for the blood to well up
from hidden cuts, but there is nothing,
and you gingerly gather the shards
in your water-warm palm.

you listen to the world
which has gone silent at your unharmed fingertips,
at the invisible lull before the brittle invasion of breakage.
hushed water resumes its whisper in your ears
with that sound as it hovers in the air.
but shhh hums the water steadily into the drain,
silencing echo's thin cacophony,
the burden of sound and its slow ebb
in this space of water and glass.
there is still a forest of abandoned wine glasses
remaindered from other evenings;
in each cupped bell the desiccated dregs
dry coin-drops of merlot that startle the water pink
even after so many days of neglect
in this house, your distraction.

you begin again, rinse and soap their thinness,
silent transparent rims and stems,
their blind glass curves.

the well-timed world resumes with your breath,
a remembered background,
a fine, uneven wash of sound.
aslant: (Default)
this morning on the sidewalk a piece of a bird lay there. the top half of a wing. the sidewalks were soaked and my shoes nearly skidded on the rotting piles of fallen leaves. allan says it is sweater and umbrella weather in london in autumn. although i dreamt of italy last night i spoke in english the entire time, and the grand market itself was from paris. i am geographically at odds with the rest of myself, lately. but perhaps that comes as no surprise. this is what i wrote last night.
begged and borrowed light (8.12.01)

o porcelain, sleek flank of bright skin
gliding on, nymph or swan,
all trumpeting hips and fluted wrist:

make me swoon into your atmosphere,
your smooth and unhurried grace,
your aching illuminate curve of cheek.

let me gain this altitudinal bliss i crave of you
when ground-bound and solid-boned
i walk unversed days,

when i am nothing to be remembered---
an unarticulated mote
in a collection of other dusty nothings.

teach me your sung lips and sloping neck,
push and push my eyes and limbs
into a dim tomb of earth,

suffocate and subsume me until i am nothing,
until i am a mere eye---
give me your unsealed light until i drown.

i will give you words and words and words
until i disappear
and you are all i own.
aslant: (Default)
writing bland, unnecessary and indistinct poetry to calm my veins. i feel i am walking on stilts. my eyes weakened under these lamps and my fingertips scarred, numbed, from nothing at all.



from lips and hips
forth through my sleeping skeleton rises a brief passion
in the unsure gleam of unawake, the bright bubble that breaks
easily on the light's sudden glare.
on waking i see i am utterly and blankly unknown on my tossed bed.
i am awake and nothing wakes with me.
i leave dreaming aside, meaningless, mute.
instead the unanswered day is waiting, alarmed, on the bedside table
at precisely seven forty-five in the sun bleached morning.
the futile ringing church bell on the street
melds indistinctly with the rush of traffic,
and i can see the indistinct late summer branches
dropping seeds futile, constant, on the barren infertile bricks.
a subtle wind disturbs them. i get out of bed
unable to grieve.

indistinguishable from others i walk a street hemmed by concrete,
the gutter basins filling with unwanted late-summer leaves;
a man at the church looks me unsteadily in the eye
he knows me, uncanny and suddenly: knows our shoes step
along familiar and in opposite directions,
he to the church door from the corner, i to my house.
where am i?
i reside in a city that is without walls, without commentary.
i live unshadowed in a late summer that floats barren seeds down on me.


we laughed, dark and sheltered and dim-lit in the bar,
a woman sung her song and then slammed out verse
until we cried, we shuddered with longing, laughing.
with your beer in hand i watched your profile,
thinking who am i to know another person?
in nothingness, with abandon and empty anonymous laughter,
i erase the idea of a city that does not know me.

in my bag unseen and cradled were lorca, jimenez:
the translations, unfamiliar, pushed me towards the past.
where are those pages i once knew?
gacela of the dark death breathed insistently into my ear,
clogging me with the escaping impossible past.
in silence i walked behind you, the narrow binding sidewalk,
to my apartment where we finished dinner and spoke of darkness.

and the telephone, cradled in the bed, spoke no words to me.
echoing in my ear like near-deaf ringing
i dimly listened instead to echoes
of the petty and beautiful brief hours:

they did not card you at the bar and that left me suddenly young,
poor, lacking sustenance. my knees slack and my nails
suddenly too long. obscene and unnecessary.
i gave you my other shirt to fend off the chill and instead
i sat there freezing, feeling my shoulders uncertainly wide,
my back exposed with discontent to the other women behind us.
leaning forward, leaning back. unsure of the proper posture
to receive these dark amplified gifts of verse in the night.
with the nervousness of the dark smoky air in my teeth
i bit off all my nails, suddenly, brutally. i tore away the evidence
of my own unseeing self.


and where were you that thursday? in fear i waited, unsustained:
there was no telephone ring, no answer.
i was twenty-two and friendless. empty as a quarry.
with the distinct sensation of growing ever younger
i resolved to not care, although the day stung me
with my own empty heart.

a copper taste filled my mouth and i was aware of not eating
for days, unsure of food and where it might take me.
in the mornings i held my own hips and sighed.
the mirror hated me back, blankly:
my curious self reflected dusty and slanted
in the old rejected mirror.

when i walked to work on the commentaried streets
there was nothing left of familiarity.
i looked directly into the eyes of the man beside the church,
who waved his cane indignantly at my retreating back.
i did not care. free and unfettered limbs followed feet
and there was nothing to see in my emptiness.

and down the street birdsong followed me gently
as i trod down into the bricks blindly
the many useless infertile seeds of the trees above.


aslant: (Default)

July 2013

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