No doubt about it, Movie could learn a thing or two from Poem.  And I wish it would, but it’s arrogant – at least Hollywood Movie generally is.  Meanwhile, until Movie wises up (and deepens down) the poetry monde might as well borrow a little business savvy from the movie world.  Here, Speechless launches a column to advance a modest (budget: $0) pre-publicity blitz for books upcoming.   Sneak Previews will present a sampling from manuscripts accepted for publication, with information on publication dates and readings.


 

Sarah Maclay: Hello Dear, an Etymology

 

Sarah Maclay’s manuscript, Whore, won the 2003 Tampa Press Poetry Prize and will appear mid-February in hardback, later in paperback, from UT (University of Tampa) Press.  (This year the press broke with tradition and awarded two prizes – the other to California poet Julia Levine for her manuscript Tether.)  Debut reading: 2/27/04 in Jeanette Clough’s and Jim Natal’s Poem.X series, Barnes & Noble, 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica.  Los Angeles poet, scholar and archivist Bill Mohr will also read.


WHORE

           

It comes from hore in Old English,

hora in Old Norwegian,

but the Latin references charity –

at the root it's carus – dear,

as in Hello, whore. Hello, dear.

As in loved one, sweetheart, precious,

as in rare – therefore expensive, dear,

cher, cheri, a luxury

when given freely,

pitting charity against law.

 

 

(A version of "Whore" appeared in Solo

 


 

MOTHER-OF-PEARL

 

So let's call them something other than clouds –

Mirror, shell, flame. The sky's idea of hair.

 

And you know the way the voice sounds

when it's cried all day:

 

like it could comb stones.

Imagine, then, I'm driving to this sound

 

which is its own kind of rough velvet

under an amber sky, and the dj

 

has a jones for just this sort of thing tonight

as I circle the block, looking for parking

 

and must circle several times

because of the gray, lithe limbs,

 

as though a body had many arms –

and each was nearly satin, raised,

 

tree after tree, with its endless

offering of leaves.

 

This is the way I walked into our rendezvous,

carrying a miracle

 

in the inner lining of my pocket. So don't ask

why those kisses under the streetlamp,

 

borrowed moon, under the arms unable

to retreat from their suspension, permanent

 

in gift, don't ask why everything that followed

made me your mirror, shell, flame. I will tell you:

 

The sugar fell all the way to my ankles

and I had to eat.

 


 

NIGHT SONG

 

Spring; the air is October.

The night-swathed maples linger in mid-breeze

 

and everyone seems to be sleeping

or away.

 

and my belly, the whole middle of my body

swells, as when I carried you –

 

or later, like your body

as it passed into night.

 

I was your mother,

and night passed through me, into night.

 

No one can touch me.

No one can touch me.

 


 

Sarah Maclay’s poems have appeared in Hotel Amerika, Pool, Spillway, Solo and Poetry International – where she now acts as book review editor – and are forthcoming in Ploughshares and Field.  An essay, "The Root of Saying," will be published next year in The Writer's Chronicle.  She’s a native of Montana with degrees from Oberlin College and Vermont College.  She conducts private poetry workshops and teaches courses in writing and speaking at FIDM.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What "I" Dream To Save "Myself"

 

In the bare alcove of a shared

dorm, taking a bottom bunk,

I can make myself content, I think,

 

until I'm coaxed

into the suite of rooms next door. It is a sign,

I think, to see my blond ex-friend,

clothed in the plummish

velvet and white-feathered tight-fitting jacket of some lost

decade-lost before either of us were born-

 

stepping from the Greyhound

with an air of easy inheritance and a kind of fluffy, smug

(and matching) arrogance, worn lightly.

 

She has come as if to a costume ball.

 

What interior goes with that clothing?

I want to say indigo-just for the sound-

but that would be a lie.

 And of course she disappears just as

 

the rooms next door open onto

a 'sun-drenched kitchen,' even a stable.

 I consider the stable, with its old, cut stones:

 a daybed in the stable-

a simple, airy room apart.

 Yes,

maybe near a gazebo

 or a sunroom with its twining leaves.

 

And then I come to the masculine

mahogany chamber-seems to be a drawing room-

I try the couch and aha! it's a comfortable

hide-a-bed which I might not consider

except for the truly unexpected view-

 

permanent sunrise, or is it sunset? Violet over the water,

a palm, a mountain-

a mountain snowy as Fuji-

behind the lake, or bay.

 

 

 

It is as though a kind of hope has been scorched there.

All contradictions can live in one place,

 

and even, to the left, tall, tall as a palm tree, taller,

a clock-tower, moving its Swiss hands

over the nearby city.

 

It is an illusion, but I have to admit

it is beautiful

 

and you are not even here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What We Leave Behind

 

Valets untuck their shirts

before the wedding

guests arrive,

 

as I, who am not invited, cross

the grounds in tennis shoes and shorts

 

to hike the terraced Buddhist gardens

higher up the hill,

 

to the hidden spots

where gangs have scrawled graffiti,

where the chapel-hut is now fenced in;

 

to the top of the canyon,

where there's a view of the city

serpented by smog

 

and its dried-out hills

and the shifting downtown skyline

 

where birds plummet from the tops of buildings

like tiny men

 

in formal suits

and rust appears in the mirrored

pool by the curb

 

and I, who am not invited,

pass the altar of this private ceremony-

 

not the one about to occur,

but the one that must have happened:

 

she has left the clippings of her hair

on a concrete bench

in front of the mansion,

 

left the ends of her hair in scraps

like stray, abandoned twigs.

She must have knelt.

 

 

Mother-of-Pearl

 

So let's call them something other than clouds-

Mirror, shell, flame. The sky's idea of hair.

 

And you know the way the voice sounds

when it's cried all day:

 

like it could comb stones.

Imagine, then, I'm driving to this sound

 

which is its own kind of rough velvet

under an amber sky, and the dj

 

has a jones for just this sort of thing tonight

as I circle the block, looking for parking

 

and must circle several times

because of the gray, lithe limbs,

 

as though a body had many arms-

and each was nearly satin, raised,

 

tree after tree, with its endless

offering of leaves.

 

This is the way I walked into our rendezvous,

carrying a miracle

 

in the inner lining of my pocket. So don't ask

why those kisses under the streetlamp,

 

borrowed moon, under the arms unable

to retreat from their suspension, permanent

 

in gift, don't ask why everything that followed

made me your mirror, shell, flame. I will tell you:

 

The sugar fell all the way to my ankles

and I had to eat.

 

 

 

 

 

Yard Work

 

I'll clear the old, putrid fruit,

the carcasses of bees where oranges have fallen

and the drying turds the dogs have dropped.

I'll sweep away the fallen avocado leaves

grown snowy with their infestations,

snip the stems of toppled flowers, toss them.

I'll yank the hose across the grass,

turn the rusty faucet,

let the lawn moisten

to a loose, runny black.

I'll water the rosemary

till I can smell it on my fingers.

Time to grab the trowel.

Time to dig,

to take off the gloves,

let the handle callous the palm,

fill the fingernails

with dirt.

Time to brush the trickle from the forehead.

Time to plant the bulb,

to fill the hole with loam and water,

covering the roots.

Time to join the soil to soil

until the night is jasmine

and a thickness like a scent of lilies

rises off the bed;

until the stalks of the naked ladies fall to the ground,

twisting on their roots;

until our broken fists lie blooming.

 

 

(This poem first appeared in Poetry International.)



 

 

 

 

 

 


Speechless Spring 2007
Copyright © 2007 Published by
Tebot Bach