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Charlotte Innes

More Moon than Moon (I)

Moon turtle, swimming across Black Lack Lake,
your slow crawl is my measure—dark belly
a steady weight for shape-shifting silver,
diminishing as your shell grows, fattening
as the shell grows weak. Three days and nights
you’re gone. But you always crawl back, on time,
uneclipsed, old plodding one, to your night beat.

 

More Moon than Moon (J)

The moon’s not cool tonight,
there’s a sort of red haze,
an aureole, too sun-like—
like he might choke.

He? I thought the moon
was a she—at least sometimes.
Think how boring it is,
to cycle across the sky,
night after night after night.
Maybe the moon wants to play
identity games...

I resent this use of the moon
as a metaphor for human frailty.
The moon is straight-up
the moon, a rock...

...but sun-lit, beautiful!
How lovely that the lives of the moon
and the sun are so intertwined...

These bloggers do go on!
For the real scoop—my bio,
my books, my numerous articles,
interviews, poetry, info.
about the number of times
the word moon occurs
in Shakespeare, Homer and such,
the etymology of moonstruck,
mooncalf, moonshine, links
to alcoholic astronomers
anonymous, Moon in June
my new dating line—
check out (at no cost)
my lunar website
themoonrules.com
fact-filled, up-to-the-minute
absolutely true, and
of course, life-changing.

 

More Moon than Moon (K)

This is the book of dark:
A cradle rocking shadow.
A white bowl and brew.
A broken egg and foam.
A blank eyeball, blinded.
The bitten-nipple moon.

 

More Moon than Moon (L)

The full moon over Moab
almost engulfed us. So
we headed south, dogged
by storm-heavy skies,

where trees, like faded-yellow
fans, brilliant with frost,
went in and out of light.
We climbed towards rock

cities, red, striated,
block on block, amid rubble.
Fingers of rock accused
or seemed locked in desire.

Oh we were sturdy as juniper,
clung like saxifrage
on cliffs to a thing as delicate
as yesterday’s leaf shadows.

Though the moon pursued with snow,
with osiers bent back under drifts
like the hair of drowned girls—
by three young trees, grey

like kings wise from birth,
we put hollow-stemmed
green papyrus in our pockets
where they leaked water, like ink.


Writer's Statement

Perhaps because I came late to poetry after a long career in journalism, I sometimes feel, like Mark Strand, that "Ink runs from the corners of my mouth/There is no happiness like mine./I have been eating poetry." Poetry as necessary as eating or breathing. Poetry as joy. And poetry as "joy in the bookish dark," as Strand puts it. When I was a child I was always reading. But I also wanted to be an Antarctic explorer. And there's a sense in which poetry has taken me to that exciting, icy place. I believe that's what led me to the writing of my series "More Moon than Moon." Lying awake at 2 a.m. some months ago, with the full moon shining through my bedroom window, I tried to grasp an idea I only half understood, in language and substance, a sense of darkness and joy. So now I have written 26 poems with the moon as a sort of focal point, the known shore of the poems, from which I set off to discover a new way of looking at the world. My voice in these poems is different from the voice in most of my earlier poems--often dark, often ironic, sometimes comic. It's been a bit like learning how to say things in a new language. I also found I needed to catalog each poem (A-Z) like an explorer listing new discoveries.


Charlotte Innes writes about books and the arts for many publications, including the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and The New York Times. Her poetry has appeared in The Hudson Review and will next appear in The Eleventh Muse. She has taught journalism at the University of Southern California and Columbia University, New York. Currently, she teaches journalism and creative writing at Brentwood School, Los Angeles. Her awards include a first prize in the Poetry in the Windows V contest and a National Press Club award for consumer journalism. Her essay on Chinese writer Can Xue appears as the foreword to "Old Floating Cloud" by Can Xue (Northwestern University Press). Her Nation essays on writers Jeanette Winterson, Kazuo Ishiguro, Elfriede Jelinek, and Yann Martel are anthologized in Contemporary Literary Criticism (Vols. 64, 110, 169, 192).

 


Speechless Spring 2007
Copyright © 2007 Published by
Tebot Bach