Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Girl Named Speck

A Girl Named Speck

You are here, and nowhere
else, the place you give yourself
to thanks you by getting handsy,
just where do you think you’re
going, that’s what the land says
to you. You can trick the world
into forgetting where you are
sometimes, get yourself swallowed
by a plane, for instance, stand
on a boat, you don’t move, it moves
for you, out from under you.
Could fall asleep here, wake up
in the Netherlands, wake up
next to a Galapagos tortoise.
Dust mite traveled to the end
of the earth, hallucinating,
exhausted, from one end
of the door jamb to the other.
Takes the hand of a god to
help you move, god of air
travel or benevolent giant hand
promising never to squish you
on purpose.

Monday, April 29, 2013

That Sweater Matches Your Eyes

That Sweater Matches Your Eyes

Irises as skeins of yarn, infinity-
looped. Faux bois fingerprints,

carnation pink days-old papercut,
no pain at all in the finger, in the

hand or skin. This body is a textile,
planet person’s atmosphere, outline

traced by a marker while we lie down,
thin, unsteady line left once we get up.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Things I’ve Accidentally Learned While Writing Poems (in the Last Couple of Weeks)

Here’s how to impersonate Jimmy Stewart.

There is a fox called a “crab-eating fox.” It looks like this and yes, eats crabs. It sounds like this.

Lemmings do not jump off of cliffs. And they are very cute. (I always think that “lemming” sounds like a type of lizard, not a furry little chinchilla guy.)

I want a toy mower that makes bubbles.

And you? What are you learning, accidentally and intentionally?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Toy Lawnmower

Toy Lawnmower

To learn to mow the grass,
pretend to mow the grass.

Pretend enough and you’ll
get good. Playtime trains

the wobbly, imprecise body
for how it will be later, give

it fifteen years and the plastic
imitation of a mower will

be replaced with the real
deal, blades, sliced grass.

Why, when things are cut,
do they smell like they are

growing, strong, wild. Give
it time, it means you, give

yourself over to the force of
years, see how growing back

does not work as you thought
it did, how the grass glows

green at night. Fifteen summers
from now, you’ll be able to hire

the boy next door who will be
born next year, he will offer

to give you a hand around the
yard, to give you his hands.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013



Now that is what I’d call
a real chair, the fragrance
of chairness billowing out
marvelously from beneath
the armrests. This chair
is definitively there, we
agree on the space it takes
to exist. Place it in a meadow,
and yellow butterflies will
land along its frame, when
you scoot the chair away,
yellow wings will remain,
floating, twitching, an outline
of a chair so convincing
someone would try to sit.
Do not talk to me about
reupholstery. Sacrilege.
Anyone sitting here, you
ask. Passel of butterflies
trumpets in tinny, quivering
chorus, you!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Another Wheel

Another Wheel

Oh no, I made a wheel

I thought I invented car feet
but I just made another pair of car sneaks

Last week it was fire

Flames from sticks, me hollering
someone get a look at this fast
wait, never mind,
it’s just more fire

How about this
this could really be what saves us all
wheel again

Do me a favor, friend
Next time you see me with a wheel
between my two hands

Put your hand on my shoulder
and say, Dear, I hate to tell you this
but it’s a wheel again
Maybe wheels are your calling

Monday, April 22, 2013

Four Good Winters

Four Good Winters

What made it all worth it
was when the snows came

and your fur would turn white
to match the snow, and you

could slink along after a lemming
who’d look back and only see

snow, moving snow, and when you
could get him in your jaws

and that other little lemming, how
quickly hunger would limp away.

Friday, April 19, 2013

On Creativity: Marita Dachsel

cover design: Rayola.com, image by Maggie Taylor  
I was introduced to Marita Dachsel’s work back in 2008, when I reviewed her book, All Things Said & Done (Caitlin Press, 2007), for GLOSS, an online Canadian arts publication I used to write for. When my review copy of that book arrived, I knew I’d love it--the cover featured an illustration of a grill, in clean lines and in the color of pencil lead, set against blank space. Familiar objects, isolated and made odd (or revealed to be innately odd)--that’s just what Dachsel’s poems do.

In Glossolalia, her newest release (with an equally stunning cover!), her poems are voiced by the wives of Joseph Smith (founder of the Latter Day Saint movement). All thirty-four of them. My head spins trying to imagine how she crafted/heard these characters--and with such respect and care, too. Dachsel’s poems honor the experiences of these women as individuals.

NOTE: After the interview below, read two of the poems from this book, "Emma Hale Smith: Two" and "Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde," both of which appear with permission from the author/publisher. Purchase a copy here. Also, you can enter her giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of her book (woohoo!) here.

Q: Reading Glossolalia, I was amazed by the different voice(s) speaking each poem. I’m wondering how you went about building/inhabiting the voices of these poems. What was your process like for hearing/puppeteering your speakers? How does voice work in any of your poems?

A: Thank you! From the very beginning I realized that voice was going to be vital to the collection. In fact, one of the impetuses for writing Glossolalia was to give voice to women who were largely forgotten and ignored by history.

I knew it would be a challenge to make sure every wife/poem sounded distinct. These women has so much in common—united by time, place, faith, and husband—there was a danger of the collection having a homogenous quality and I worked hard so it wouldn’t be. My approach differed depending on the poem and where I was in the journey of writing the collection. It was about six years from the first draft of the first poem to when I signed off on the last correction before it was sent to publication. I changed a lot as a writer over that time, and so did how I approached the material and the rewrites.

Research fuelled the writing. I read two really great biographies on Joseph Smith’s wives—Emma Hale Smith: Mormon Enigma about his first wife and In Sacred Loneliness about 32 others. I read anything I could get my hands on about the early church and his wives, but those two books were the ones I kept returning to.
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