Friday, March 30, 2007

Some "To" Poems

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Laura Kasischke III and Last

I've now completed my sweep and have all 6 of her poetry collections.

from Housekeeping in a Dream:

"Murdered Girls"

Their voices shimmered in limelight, a fine
talcum of sweet air. Asbestos
and chalk dust strung their hair. At night
they stripped to strobe light
in bars all over town, thought
my father didn't go
to see the show. He
huddled with the other fathers in a fatigue-
green past of hand
grenades and grace. One night he got drunk
and told them how he'd seen
a girl run through a town of flashing light
with her wedding dress on fire. Top
he might've meant. And then
it was Sunday again and the priest
told us how Agatha, virgin
martyr, was tossed
onto burning coals but wouldn't burn. Here
Agatha carries
her own breasts on a tray
. The plain
nodding of nuns and a news-
paper photo of another girl
dug up behind our houses, while
we grew breasts and dated, finally
married our fathers
and daily jogged through the fat
jugular streets of our town, to get
thin or to get away: a brass
fanfare in June
and a toast of a hundred glasses
flashing at the sky.

in memory of Kate Mills


from What It Wasn't:

"My Heart"

When August was finally done, his
wife never mailed the dark
card to me that said, "hon

he's all yours now, good
luck and happy Labor Day," and still
I loved that man, the way

magnolias go
sloppy and wet as pneumonia
on front lawns when summer's oever, the way

a cool moon might appear on a bright September afternoon
to the naked eye to be
just a blind blue infant face

hovering in space. those
human trees: Listen
to them wheeze all night in sleep while

the washing machine churns blood
and whiskey out of your sheets. I
loved that man, whatever that means.

Whatever you need, I thought.
Whatever you eat. GOTCHA
he wrote one morning

in red pen above my breast. Bull's-eye
where my heart was, and the earth
bobbed a bit

on the little string that holds it
over a whoosh of air
and emptiness, the way

when I was a child a magician pulled
a long silk scarf
from my ear. I could hear

red wind when it passed
out of me into his hands. All
the other children at the party

gasped, but I
knew where he'd gotten it from, and felt
my heart spin in me like a sparking

toy when he was done.


from Dance and Disappear:

"Small Boys Petting Caterpillar"

Somewhere, a god
is handling our hearts.
Wonder can kill, accidentally, what it loves.

It's summer. the ditches
are full of fish-scales and glitter. also
the sepulcher, the tomb, the pit. someone
has scraped them out of the air

with the dull edge of a knife. someone

has told them to be gentle, and now
their little hands are light as prayers. If
they breathe, their hands will float away.
The dust of music in water.

One of them is trembling. One

is bouncing with his legs crossed.
Perhaps he needs to pee.

Above us, on the highest limb, a dangerous piece of fruit dangles.
A teenage girl is stepping

all over the sunshine in her tennis shoes. Perhaps

that piece of fruit will simply
drift into her hands.
It did, for me. swiftly,
but with wings.

And the caterpillar

is a word, a soft bit of star. Oblivious, our hearts. could
that word be faith, or trust, or is it

some other word which means
to let go in ignorance, or to hold one's breath and hope?
And would that word be love?

It doesn't matter because
we're helpless in the hands of what does.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Announcing . . .

The PFFA NaPoWriMo 2007 Forum is open for business.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Laura Kasischke Again: "Wild Brides: Poems"

I lucked out and was able to find a copy of Laura Kasischke's out-of-print first collection Wild Brides: Poems. It's divided into four sections, each section prefaced with an epigraph from Euripides' Medea which sets the tone and underscores the subjects of that section. The epigraph of the first section is:

So you, Medea, wild with love
Set sail from your father's house.

Here's a poem from that section:


I see you will live an ordinary life, perhaps
have children, perhaps marry
a kind but un-
remarkable man. There
is a simple journey that waits for you
(Niagara Falls? Yellowstone Park?) Go
on it. Make
the decisions you have to make: paint
the upstairs bathroom blue, move
to Wisconsin. It doesn't matter.
But here, here in this crease, this crease
like a scar at your thumb -- here
I see something more.
The drapes in this room will be red
and torn. Close them. Let him
show you slowly to the bed. No
you'll say, it's daylight
and my simple husband trusts me.
Trust me -- this
is your moment -- the one
you'll remember (the hot breath
of the August breeze, the sun
white in the sky, the trickle of sweat
on his neck: it will turn to salt on your tongue).
This one you've held
and will hold all your life
though it cuts a bit at your thumb
like a single sliver of glass that glints
from a quarry of slate. You
will die someday, of course, slowly
not young not old. And before you're forgotten
the neighbors will speak of you fondly.
Now close your hand tight
on this secret. Die
with this secret but no regrets. Remember
this is how the small survive, the way
the small have slways survived.

* * *

The epigraph for the fourth section is:

Let the whole house crash.

Here is a poem from that section:

"Twenty-Ninth Birthday"

Suddenly I see that I
have been wearing my mother's body
for a long time now. It all
belongs to her, here where the skin
is softest and here
where it puckers in disgust -- each
inch. The very nails that pounded
her body to pieces
build me one just like it
and I have been wearing it
like a terrible house
and never noticed -- all of it
hers, except this mole on my arm --that
belonged to my father's mother
and it was left to me
to remind me that I
am one of those
witches, too, praying
in the dry face of the moon
while I walk around with death
in my big breasts, like them, full
already of my future scars
and pain and hallucinations
that shriek ahead like train tracks
past this naked house
across the self-pitying
pleasureless decades left.
I have turned my face to the wall to hide it
while you slip my father's
angry face over yours.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Finally: In "The Jackdaw's Nest"