Poem for the Day: November 21st, 2021

Winter Journal: Threshed Blue, Cardings, Dim Tonsils by Emily Wilson

stripped batting of cloud
glimpsed ligaments
dusk coming up under
lithographic, nib-hatchings
instruments click
the fine-sprung locust
replicate dinge along hill-lines
tailings of umber, the rust smudge
There is still that hemmed ocean of oaks
the various reds, the somehow
silver cast over the brown-gold
the under-brushed shadows
How can there be more of their dispensing
into air?
The night-openings of the trees
The thousand clefts into
Their corridors shiver and merge and piece apart
There is no one beside what was once river
Only the carbons incoming
accreting in leaves
Love of old oaks unencumbering
Root-beauties brought through
crude sieves of bare trees
the few fastened leaves
Those pods are like tongues or like sickles
The blades have been pulled from their sheaths
The backs of the clouds now upturned
They herd from pink seas
They make their untouchable stream
through regions of steep emptiness
against which the trees have their gestures
Drop down, drop down toward me
your little sleek scars
Make your bed in rough cedars
clangor of darks numbering in
clusters of trunks and spoked lungs
the thistles that work at the gums

© 2001 Emily Wilson and Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. “Winter Journal: Threshed Blue, Cardings, Dim Tonsils” originally appeared in Wilson’s collection The Keep, which was published in 2001 by University of Iowa Press.

Emily Wilson studied at Harvard University and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has taught at the latter, as well as at Colby College, Grinnell College, and the University of Montana. Wilson is the author of four poetry collections: The Keep (University of Iowa Press, 2001); Morpho Terrestre (2006), a limited edition book featuring artwork by Sara Langworthy; Micrographia (University of Iowa Press, 2010); and The Great Medieval Yellows (Canarium Books, 2015).

Writing for Boston Review, James Galvin said of Wilson: “Generous in her spareness, clear in her complexity, matching wildness of diction with precision of sense, nervousness with nerve, her poems are not written for analysis, perhaps not even for approval. As we watch poetical heresies turn into orthodoxies, it becomes clear, especially in a poet like Wilson, that only originality, a signature style, remains steadfastly heretical.”

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: November 20th, 2021

Chorus Attempting to Interpret Unearthed Fragments of Their Play by Carolina Ebeid

Can you let go the concern
for how it began what happened

Here the word house remains
A reddening ( ) near house

To describe the sounds
coming in A human voice
barks through the window

the same voice like horsehair
stretched along the bow drawn
across the strings

Where the action is missing
we place ( ) A girl pours out

water from a pail flung up
so that the water arches
into a sickle in an instant
of daylight

The word swallows as a complaint
of swallows raiding the air
suddenly thick with gnats

When you notice the ash
you will mutter ash
& it will appear again: ash
on everything, behind the ears ash

Maybe this shadow belongs
to the house at 4:30
Shadow is a length of gauze
loosened over the garden

It began with blizzards
for nine hours

A cleft on the ceiling
or a cleft in the chest
No matter, a cleft let
the weather in

Here is a description
of a face in anger
a weather of arrows

Instead of counting sheep
the injured man folds clothes
in his head into heaps

Separate what is missing
from what’s disappeared

(here has been eaten by silverfish)
We are left to think of ( )

as the space between falling
asleep & waking up
Swallow can be a passage

the gullet, throat,
a grave in the ground
We’re surrounded by swallows

that open ( ) so fluent with bodies
nobodies

Here there was a story
& we were part of the after-
waves in a disaster

braiding wreaths of roadside flowers

The violet ones we’ll call purple daughters
The white ones: asylum lights

© 2019 Carolina Ebeid. Today’s poem originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Poetry Magazine.

Ebeid earned her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin and is pursuing her Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Denver. She currently lives in Colorado where she teaches at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. She also serves as poetry editor at The Rumpus and edits (with her husband, Jeffrey Pethybridge) Visible Binary, an online journal specializing in experimental poetics and avant-garde expression. She has been published in numerous journals both in print and online and has been awarded multiple fellowships, among them fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

You Ask Me To Talk About the Interior by Carolina Ebeid

She is the author of the poetry collection You Ask Me To Talk About the Interior, which was published in 2016 by Noemi Press and is available to purchase through Small Press Distribution.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: September 19th, 2021

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (Winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize) by Chen Chen

In the Hospital by Chen Chen

My mother was in the hospital & everyone wanted to be my friend.
But I was busy making a list: good dog, bad citizen, short
skeleton, tall mocha. Typical Tuesday.
My mother was in the hospital & no one wanted to be her friend.
Everyone wanted to be soft cooing sympathies. Very reasonable
pigeons. No one had the tie & our solution to it
was to buy shinier watches. We were enamored with
what our wrists could declare. My mother was in the hospital
& I didn’t want to be her friend. Typical son. Tall latte, short tale,
bad plot, great wifi in the atypical café. My mother was in the hospital
& she didn’t want to be her friend. She wanted to be the family
grocery list. Low-fat yogurt, firm tofu. She didn’t trust my father
to be it. You always forget something, she said, even when
I do the list for you. Even then.

The language in this poem exposes both the terror and banality accompanying seeing someone you love ill. Small details become our refuge and religion.

I thought today’s poem would be apropos for the world we currently live in, where so much of our collective existence is focused on (the avoidance of needing to go to) hospitals. I’ve been enamored with Chen Chen’s poetry for years now, and his collection (pictured above) that includes “In the Hospital” was in my opinion one of the best of the 2010s. The language in this poem exposes both the terror and banality accompanying seeing someone you love ill. Small details become our refuge and religion.

In the end, we cannot do the thing that needs doing the most, which is healing, a return to vitality, a restoration to order.

We pick minutiae that can be controlled, or at least reasonably assessed, and make that our focus. We grapple with our incompetencies and make lists of all the things we can do and all the things we can’t. In the end, we cannot do the thing that needs doing the most, which is healing, a return to vitality, a restoration to order. That is always thanklessly out of our hands.

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities was released in 2017 by BOA Editions, Ltd. and is available to order wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.