Posts Tagged ‘poet’

Laura Walker: from story as a cloud above the bed, haze of flies, a little suture

This week, THERMOS has run a feature of Laura Walker’s poetry, assembled by Cassie Donish. We conclude today with a series of new poems. Thanks for taking the opportunity to read new work by one of our favorite poets.

from story as a cloud above the bed, haze of flies, a little suture

if a story like a river, loose and fretful, twine. if a story with debris and froth, pulling from the banks as it comes, never the same twice, step in and be renewed. if glass-bottomed boats and red-dotted fishes. if another line just under the surface, if you can’t see without drowning, if sometimes in storm, sometimes becalmed. if each person carries her own boat, dam, leaf. cutting its own way through or swept along and over the cliff, story as waterfall and prismed light, story as gravity.


to make an honest betrayal, shoving ahead in the dark. her brother’s blond head rising above waves; a man on the bed telling stories. little girls in exquisite ice, beaded swans, a soldier inside a hollow tree. three sets of enormous eyes. and when the story bolts out of the tree: an old woman as mound and x’s on doors. incongruous. the man with one glimpse wishing her forever. he smelled like salvage. damp books that hadn’t been opened in years. dust along the corners.


a story as skin. boundary, temperature, delineation. what she was told and what she saw making fuzzy scratches in the dark. coming to terms, carefully, over tea. if he saw her he didn’t see her; if he didn’t see her is perspective a concept worth inhabiting. the era of loose meditation gowns and full frontal nudity, a thin acrid smell underneath the baking bread; they grew it themselves in the basement. lights buzzing all night long. swimming as context, the house and its inhabitants: to get her head above water.


the story spills and is not absorbed, excess running off hard ground, rising, collecting old bottles and fenceposts, swirling and sucking, the girl and the boy climbing a little faster now, up onto the hill or the barn or someone’s front stairs, keeping their feet dry.

the story of the woods before the woods; the story of the woods.

her story as the moment she opens her eyes, slowly, in case someone has wired them shut. the pull and feel of gravity, the north pole, snow and magnet. each track identifiable if you know how to look: rabbit, solider, a dragged wing. they ran a new fence just along the gully, her brothers, inhabited trees.


to go with the soldiers. burn your clothes and follow them, stepping across dirt, the terrible winding roads. they have no concept of what they will see; their guns are unwaxed and staring. by the time they return they will be solitary, wandering the high grass, looking for wild honey and a hollow tree. story as a cradled gash, warm bubbling of space, a hole to carry in your pocket.


the story continues on its own, intent, limping toward water or a nearby road. she can see it in the distance, in one version calls out, in another doesn’t, standing barefoot on the porch. we eat the same fruit, follow the same thoughts of shade, but we are different creatures and the difference cannot be sustained or distracted. the story tries to move forward, falls, circles back and tries again. she stands on floorboards. she doesn’t know the way either, couldn’t help if she wanted to, but slowly descends and heads toward it. to keep a story company; to give it shade.


Laura Walker: from Genesis

This week, THERMOS is running a feature of Laura Walker’s poetry, assembled by Cassie Donish. We continue today with selections from Walker’s Genesis. Please check back throughout the week for more new poems, and an interview.

from Genesis

in the beginning what was startled flew up into the liquid sky. and the children came tiptoeing round, to see the man sleeping there in the fields; and they carried their pie plates and rosined spoons out onto the clay

and the plows, whiskering away in the darkness; and the sheeted moss; and the furrows, newly made, baring themselves among the birds

and we were small and formless and our hands did not settle


in the beginning a way of yielding, and the sound of retrieval and rattled blue frames. and intentionality, and the young; and those who held themselves apart continued apart and rose in sanctioned masses to rooftops and to bloom. and the forgetting; and the struck expanse; and the way the light aircraft made their maps across the sky, billowy and upturned

and the angle
and the shatter

and the glass was written, and contained; and the air was remedial, and alight; and the noise of boots on shards was something knocking on a door, far away and beneath a handle


in the beginning the lines were rampant and the air was full of clock and bird. the smallest lay down among her notes and wrappers blew about the trees, between the branches and the memory of hours and a small ticking sound, not to be ignored

and the raptors
and the hard wiring

and each bright thing weighed itself in succession, positioned itself against the ledge and lined up two by two


in the beginning the stones came loose, and the words were wax and singing under the faint porch light. and a pocket, and a flare; and the birds assembled at last, awaiting snow and cloth and the sound of sticks. and the fires; and the arrival; and the clouds bought and paid for

and the settled

and the prostrate

and the arrival was styrofoam, and inchoate; and the welcome was creviced, and slit; and the sound increased against the walls in battles and shifting shores


in the beginning what we found just off the edge of our paper would circulate again, fall back among us as dreams of snow or the slough of someone’s new suit. the children were brought round to enter the fields again; and they were collaged in reds and browns, and told which birds to hold and which to scatter with their feet. the morning light came round again, and someone held spoons and someone held clatter and sawdust piled and began to converge

and we were a building

and we were a formation

and we were sick, and suited, and grouped in twos and threes

THERMOS 5: Laura Walker

This week, THERMOS is running a feature of Laura Walker’s poetry, assembled by Cassie Donish. These poems, from the collection bird book, first appeared in THERMOS 5. Please check back throughout the week for more poems, and an interview.

                                                                                eastern kingbird

we saw him walking down from the store

coal headed

to be seldom visible

give in a series


near water

                                                                                prothonotary warbler

half of numerous

we were dark         prominent

              two boys in the backseat

              large white peaches

                                                                      to call


                                                                      an only tree


    sluggish or stagnant

or water

                                                                                mourning dove

she awaits a violent body

our more abundant

the larger       a small

                                          ask him to come in

                                                                                eastern phoebe

he followed her through the store

darkest head

told from

and out into the street

              compare the lack of


                          leaves and rafters

                                                                                house sparrow

obscuring as pastime

a combination of her

                          unstreaked and aggressive

                          she paused by the back steps


                                                                                willow flycatcher

to lack what is prominent

              she has your eyes

Public Letter: Laura Walker

This week, THERMOS will run a feature of Laura Walker’s poetry, assembled by Cassie Donish. It begins today with a public letter — or, a series of public letters — addressed to Cassie. Please check back throughout the week for poems, new and old, and an interview.

dear cassie,

i can’t write and mean it at the same time.

it’s an old problem, a recurring dream where the characters happily shift places with each other. intent becomes a brisk snow becomes a wide-eyed betrayal. sleep turns visible, perception moves among its various guises, the dream of a steady gaze. i envy people who write what they know.

dear cassie,

my first ghost story was the one about the woman with the blue ribbon around her neck. do you know it? she tells her husband she can’t take the ribbon off. when he finally does, late at night while she sleeps, her head falls onto the floor.

was she already a ghost or always about-to-be-one? and which was more alluring to me, eight years old and unable to sleep? the silkiest of betrayals. what’s known and what’s believed; who positions whom. sketching the dark because you’re awake anyway.

dear cassie,

the first ghost i ever saw i didn’t actually see. i was driven by a dark house in a dark night and something shuddered. it seemed like a new way of knowing, the way things touch you in the dark.

containment and the precarious: waiting for someone to grow tired of waiting. watching your fingers twitch in the night.

that year we moved into a blue house and i saw a ghost on the stairs. swept skirts, hair done up. not looking at me; me not looking at her. we had, i guess, other things on our mind.

what do you see when you look away from what you see? a helpless envy.

dear cassie,

like the girl who switched places with her dead twin, an episode of the incredible hulk we watched with my first stepfather in a blue and humid night: a ghost differently. i dreamed about her for years, re-enacting her sister’s body, the bent of her head. meticulous. resemblances, semblances, assembly. what can’t be even though it’s exactly the same; a container aware of itself. holding becomes another beast entirely.

clear and steady.

a ribbon, a twin’s body, a dead house.

something to hover and move through.

dear cassie,

my mother read us the little matchgirl from the front seat on long car rides, hoping we’d fall asleep.

we never fell asleep.

when the matchgirl stands outside the pulsing windows, watching them eat in the light, what is the ghost? glass, candles, a tree. they shimmer and merge and become rivers through the floor. the matches burned our fingers. when her grandmother arrives, ribbons and arms, who is the ghost then, asleep in the snow? the boys who chased her across the street and made her lose her slipper. the pavement stones. something about the air.

a fading in the first clear light.

The New Census: Sarah Vap

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, picks up today for a final installment: new work from Sarah Vap. She’s included a statement on the poems, below. Please feel free to visit the full feature here, and purchase the anthology here.


These poems were taken verbatim from the dictionary feature on the Investopedia website, and are part of a longer manuscript called Viability — the whole effort of which rolls around in Capitalism’s mechanisms and certainties of owning certain kinds of people, creatures, communities.

from Viability

Lindsay Lohan Stock Index: A stock index comprised of companies associated with actress Lindsay Lohan. Investors might correlate the popularity of Lohan with increased sales surrounding her related products. Firms involved with Lohan endorsements, advertising or movies are included in the index.

Fans may see Lindsay Lohan use a certain product, such as her Mercedes Benz, and rush to purchase one for themselves. The increased demand will usually drive up a company’s sales, merely for being associated with Lohan. Companies involved in the index include Disney (NYSE: DIS), who produce many of Lohan’s films, Daimler Chrysler (NYSE: DCX), and Mattel (NASDAQ: MAT).

As with most celebrity-related terms, buzz words such as this usually have a shorter shelf life and may become irrelevant.

Sleeping Beauty: A company that is considered prime for takeover, but has not yet been approached by an acquiring company. A company may be considered a sleeping beauty for a variety of reasons, including large cash reserves, undervalued real estate, undervalued share price, attractive assets or strong growth and earnings potential. A takeover, or acquisition, is typically characterized by the purchase of a smaller company by a larger firm. The acquiring company generally offers a cash price per share, thereby purchasing the target outright for its own shareholders.

In relation to mergers and acquisitions (M&A), a sleeping beauty is a company that is “sleeping;” that is, one that is ripe for takeover to achieve its full potential. A sleeping beauty might be a new company that has great potential but has not yet been noticed, or it could be an established company that has not been managed well, and is therefore not maximizing its potential. A sleeping beauty essentially lies in wait until a takeover occurs, at which point the company theoretically would be able to live up to its potential.

Leading Lipstick Indicator: An indicator based on the theory that a consumer turns to less expensive indulgences, such as lipstick, when she feels less than confident about the future. Therefore, lipstick sales tend to increase during times of economic uncertainty or a recession. Also known as the “lipstick effect.”

This term was coined by Leonard Lauder (chairman of Estee Lauder), who consistently found that during tough economic times, his lipstick sales went up. Believe it or not, the indicator has been quite a reliable signal of consumer attitudes over the years. For example, in the months following the September 11 terrorist attacks, lipstick sales doubled.

Skirt Length Theory: The idea that skirt lengths are a predictor of the stock market direction. According to the theory, if skirts are short, it means the markets are going up. And if skirts are long, it means the markets are heading down. Also called the Hemline Theory.

The idea behind this theory is that shorter skirts tend to appear in times when general consumer confidence and excitement is high, meaning the markets are bullish. In contrast, the theory says long skirts are worn more in times of fear and general gloom, indicating that things are bearish.

Although some investors may secretly believe in such a theory, serious analysts and investors—instead of examining skirt length to make investment decisions—insist on focusing on market fundamentals and data.

The New Census: Sandra Doller

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, concludes today with poetry from Sandra Doller. Thanks so much to all the editors and poets who contributed to the anthology and the feature — it’s been a lot of fun for us to read. You can purchase the anthology here.



finger pointing
come hither
what did you capture
what did you land on
uh snap
uh snap
here’s one—I’ve got one
spiral jetty on the
black top.


what did you see
what I saw what I
fanned myself I shared
a moment of fanning
I told myself fall down
I said to fall down is
to be forgotten
is to be lonely on the
black top
I have never used
this word this pen


write the soundtrack sound tack
spread it out and try to
move forward only
1 inch try to stop
yourself from this side
to side
run around a downside
an email is being
sent a hardness
how do they know?


-what is an
-where did she go?
-what was her name again?
-why are we here?
-will you share it?
-why is the floor stomping?
-what about that?
-why not?


-fire under water
-sad jokes
-unhappy ice cream
-sorry holiday


where are you now?
what was that wave?
what sound does the foot
make on the
asphalt sidewalk
too such


only questions I have
are where why
when I woke up I
so wake me up
did you just lift your foot?
did you just ask me to dance?
can you write and listen?
what happens without
what are you afraid of?


I doubted it—I didn’t
believe it—
I told you I didn’t
what just happened here?
what did you say?
what was on your foot?
why were you standing
is this how you feel?
is it over?


what is your focus?
a distraction a diversion
a Sandra a
they’re saying my name
I can’t focus without my
once my name is
whistled a


The New Census: Carrie Olivia Adams

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, continues this week with new poetry by contributors to the anthology. Today we have new work from Carrie Olivia Adams. You can purchase the anthology here.

from Daughter of a Tree Farm

A widow, belonging by fire. A beehive’s swarm of bees attacking a bear, made small. Finishing schools to earn the well-known favorite honor of departure. A peeress, a remarkable beauty against her will, to liaison the leaves. She lived for the remainder in the village buried near the church in the sight of God, the view of man, took part in the battle.


A body that medicine has given up, refuses to diagnose. I finished, I cried, separated. In mathematics, I soon forgot the mark at hearing the heroines myself. It was so windy there. Our family had not seen our way back. Almost daily, handed a proposal of struggle. How else to combat the farm’s idleness? The itch of still. I did not think it was possible. It goes on like this. I shall go and tell everything or shoot. Life had passed. The force of the need. Fate and activity began to consider their origin but did not like to be called in. I remember how to listen to anything new. We lived a recall that passed us by; we followed nothing. I desired nothing else but to develop as though they were living. I had no other proof.

The New Census: Randall Mann

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, continues this week with new poetry by contributors to the anthology. Today we’re happy to print a new poem from Randall Mann. You can purchase the anthology here.


Remember the shake-the-salad days of Dragnet
reruns, spray and starch, and that pint-sized fridge?
Tenderloin Heights? The Earth Muffin magnet?
You stalked me on the Carquinez Bridge,

little Pinto; I asked you in to look at my iguana.
You stayed. You smelled like an arcade.
When I threatened to leave you for Guyana,
you swam all up in my Kool-Aid.

Even our losses felt relatively glam:
crullers, snap-on ties. Shadow gloves.
Your pair of black Zodiac-Killer glasses.
A lot of meat, but not a lot of money, like Spam.
And our vinyl wedding, which ended when doves
shot “A Blessing in Disguise” out of their rented asses.

The New Census: Steve Healey

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, continues this week with new poetry by contributors to the anthology. Today we’re happy to print a new poem from Steve Healey. You can purchase the anthology here.

6:05 pm on a Wednesday

This is what a bridge looks like.
This is a bridge crossing a river on a planet
orbiting a sun. This is a structure
providing passage over a physical obstacle
such as a river on a planet once upon
a time. What being in a vehicle
crossing a bridge looks like upon a time.
This is a vehicle that looks like
many vehicles shiny in the light
of the sun, moving across a structure
that looks like a perfect horizontal strip
of land across nothing but air.
This is a person who once upon
a 6:04 pm on a Wednesday in August
thinks nothing about what gravity
looks like at one-hundred-and-fifteen feet
above an actual river. What people
look like in vehicles wearing sunglasses,
remembering a chicken salad sandwich
for lunch, listening to news about
a war happening somewhere,
people who are killing other people.
This is in fact what a bridge seen
by a security camera on a Wednesday
in August at 6:04 pm, the shiny vehicles,
the planet turning away from the sun,
the sun falling in the sky a little more
toward evening, looks like.
In fact, the bridge begins to fall
at 6:05 pm. It drops quickly, in fact,
under the force of gravity. In fact,
this is what one-hundred-and-fifteen feet
looks like. The bridge and the vehicles
on the bridge and the people
in the vehicles and the sunglasses
on the people. This is what falling
looks like. This is what afraid.
This is what my God. This is what
no bridge, in fact. The absence of bridge.
Once upon a time, in fact. What
nothing looks like. This is absence
seen by a security camera at 6:06 pm
on a Wednesday. What,
in fact. In fact, this.

Note: This poem was commissioned by the city of Minneapolis and published by Rain Taxi Review of Books in a limited-edition poetry collection marking the 5th anniversary of the I 35 W bridge collapse.

The New Census: Kyle Dargan

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, continues this week with new poetry by contributors to the anthology. Today we’re happy to print a new poem from Kyle Dargan. You can purchase the anthology here.


If my heart would only mimic
David Blaine more than Houdini—
suffering in place for excruciating,
short spells instead of shocking
audiences with escapes.
Endurance is not magic,
sadly. Imagine ever-lasting
love as a simple chant—arcane
language that will fuse souls
given proper enunciation.
Or am I thinking of sorcery?
(A wizard might wand your lips
into Japanese hornets for calling him
a magician.) Either way,
I admire David Blaine
for the same reasons many
think him a charlatan—
he is just a man, one who’ll risk
standing within the caging ice
of human limitation until
his nerves numb or he forgets
to sink back into consciousness.
My heart thinks too much,
sees opening as an illusion
masking constraint. It fidgets,
tucks and rocks with the same
passion that it once slipped within
the straightjacket’s long arms.
Free, my heart rises from the body’s
river of blood. Along the banks,
men extend their palms to collect
from all the fools who bet against.