Skip to main content

AI 1947-2010



I discovered AI between the time I left graduate school and when I wrote steadily for ten years before I published anything. That fun period--let's call it, oh, 1999. I taught three comp courses at Emerson College, and two at Northeastern University, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The other days of the week I worked at Trident Booksellers on Newbury Street, and it was during that time, most likely stocking the shelves, I found her. It wasn't just what the Poetry Foundation bio calls her "uncompromising poetic vision and bleak dramatic monologues which give voice to marginalized, often poor and abused speakers," it was the sheer flux of her line, the skin-slipping dramatic monologues and the unabashed sexuality. Why is that women are more frank about sex and better able to write about real sex, as opposed the sometimes dreamy, sometimes porny world of male sex-writing? Question for another time. In any case, I immediately fell in love with her poems, and  I always remember the first poem by a new poet. Here it is, with another one I like nearly as well:



Twenty-year Marriage

You keep me waiting in a truck
with its one good wheel stuck in the ditch,
while you piss against the south side of a tree.
Hurry. I’ve got nothing on under my skirt tonight.
That still excites you, but this pickup has no windows
and the seat, one fake leather thigh,
pressed close to mine is cold.
I’m the same size, shape, make as twenty years ago,
but get inside me, start the engine;
you’ll have the strength, the will to move.
I’ll pull, you push, we’ll tear each other in half.
Come on, baby, lay me down on my back.
Pretend you don’t owe me a thing
and maybe we’ll roll out of here,
leaving the past stacked up behind us;
old newspapers nobody’s ever got to read again.

The Kid

My sister rubs the doll’s face in mud,
then climbs through the truck window.
She ignores me as I walk around it,
hitting the flat tires with an iron rod.
The old man yells for me to help hitch the team,
but I keep walking around the truck, hitting harder,
until my mother calls.
I pick up a rock and throw it at the kitchen window,
but it falls short.
The old man’s voice bounces off the air like a ball
I can’t lift my leg over.

I stand beside him, waiting, but he doesn’t look up
and I squeeze the rod, raise it, his skull splits open.
Mother runs toward us. I stand still,
get her across the spine as she bends over him.
I drop the rod and take the rifle from the house.
Roses are red, violets are blue,
one bullet for the black horse, two for the brown.
They’re down quick. I spit, my tongue’s bloody;
I’ve bitten it. I laugh, remember the one out back.
I catch her climbing from the truck, shoot.
The doll lands on the ground with her.
I pick it up, rock it in my arms.
Yeah. I’m Jack, Hogarth’s son.
I’m nimble, I’m quick.
In the house, I put on the old man’s best suit
and his patent leather shoes.
I pack my mother’s satin nightgown
and my sister’s doll in the suitcase.
Then I go outside and cross the fields to the highway.
I’m fourteen. I’m a wind from nowhere.
I can break your heart.


You can find surprisingly little written about her life or death on the interwebs, though I'm going to point you toward what I've found so far.

Comments

  1. The first poem? In a cliche' --> it blew me away. Thanks, Rusty, now I have to quit what I'm doing and incessantly research this for a while. Stop making me go off track...
    -Val

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

David Oliver Cranmer

Not Just Another Playlist Often, I sit in my swivel chair looking out the window, while jazz, country, or rock music plays. This pleasure goes on for many hours a mystic trance of sorts streaming—the glue maintaining my soul. I turn the best songs into playlists (once we called them mix tapes) puzzling over the perfect order. Does Satchmo’s “What a Wonderful World” kick off my latest list or make it the big soulful closer? And does “Mack the Knife” go higher in the set than “Summertime?” That’s an Ella Fitzgerald duet! “Foolishness? No, it’s not” whether you are climbing a tree to count all the leaves or tapping to beats. These are the joys that bring inner peace and balance (to a cold universe) lifting spirits skyward. David Oliver Cranmer ’s poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared in publications such as Punk Noir Magazine , The Five-Two: Crime Poetry Weekly , Needle: A Magazine of Noir , LitReactor , Macmillan’s Criminal Element , and

Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg  We saw a deer through the pane into someone else’s yard. The leg moved like a tube sock pinned to the hip  and half filled with sticks. I did not like to see it suffer, either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped  the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction  of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true.  We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet  in those moments of a cold November day, we watched  a doe, disabled and enduring, walk across a yard and eat  a hedge. I wish she could have seen it like that. Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline,

Corey Mesler

  I think of you tonight, my Beats I think of you tonight, my Beats, and I am grateful.  I walked the narrow lanes of Academia and never felt at home. There were men and women in the flowerbeds, their heads full of theorems and poems. There were teachers who could lift their own weight in prose.  I was lonely. I was too loose.  I was a lad from the faraway country of Smarting. But I had you as so many before me. I had you and I knew secret things. I could count on you like a percussion. And now I want to say: I love you.  If not for you, what? I want to say. If Allen Ginsberg did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.  COREY MESLER has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and New Stories from the South . He has published over 25 books of fiction and poetry. His newest novel, The Diminishment of Charlie Cain , is from Livingston Press. He also wrote the screenplay for We Go On , which won The Me