I had the pleasure of meeting Anne Shaw at the Slash Pine Press events a couple weeks ago, and got to read alongside her at the poetry hike. Wonderful time. Wonderful poems. Here's one of her poems via Verse Daily.


The pink troll of our decade snickers from under its bridge
as the country goes crazy for jesus and the grey men
in the alley start to stink. I am humming under my breath in the key of doubt
as you pray to the god of washrooms, make us clean.
Each day's bitter ribbon and its calculus of light. I sing o bastard of my heart
be still. Your god is the god of mirrors, and the house a paper wasp builds
is paper. There are broken slats in every tiny thing. The pupa
and its carapace. The celery salt, the stalk. The way my birchy skin
peels off. Your hennaed hand. Your hand. How grief runs
through me like a pack of eels. Silver and colloidal,
the tides have seen us coming and turn back.
Like them, our work is breakage. To plunder to from fro. Inside us
something pliant, soiled. Bearing the dent of thumbs.

Anne Shaw
from Undertow

--A review of Undertow at Boxcar Poetry Review

--Link to Anne Shaw's website

Slash Pine

Joseph P. Wood - In What I Have
Done & What I Have Failed to Do
I'm in Tuscaloosa today and tomorrow for the Slash Pine Press Writers Hike. Drove down yesterday afternoon from Knoxville with a student from my Intro Poetry Writing class. It's a really great program Joseph Wood has set up here. He contacts Southern poets that are just embarking on their careers, asks them to come read, and to bring promising undergrads to participate in a collaborative poetry project with undergrad poetry students from U of Alabama.

In a few minutes I'll meet up with some of the Alabama undergrads and my student, and we're going to head out to the Cahaba Wilderness Preserve where the undergrads are going to make a poetry film in which they will read/perform their work "in the wild." It promises to be fantastic. What an opportunity for these students, and for me to work with them and hear their poems.

Heidi Lynn Staples - Dog Girl
Met MC Hyland briefly last night, and then got to meet Heidi Lynn Staples who brought a van load of students down from U of Georgia. Great conversation. Feels a little bit like AWP in the sense of camaraderie between writers.

Now, if we can only figure out how to bring this up to Knoxville. Who'se interested in working with me and Joseph to do a similar program at Tennessee next spring?

(Apparently Facebook is blocked here, so even though I'm posting this entry on Facebook, I won't be able to see or respond to any comments. Feel free to post any comments on the blog or email me. Thanks!)

"Also somewhere a crow"


Furiously a crane
in the scrapyard out of whose grasp
a car it meant to pick up slipped,
lifts and lets fall, lifts and lets fall
the steel ton of its clenched pincers
onto the shuddering carcass
which spurts fragments of anguished glass
until it's sufficiently crushed
to be hauled up and flung onto
the heap from which one imagines
it'll move on to the shredding
or melting down that awaits it.

Also somewhere a crow
with less evident emotion
punches its beak through the dead
breast of a dove or albino
sparrow until it arrives at
a coil of gut it can extract,
then undo with a dexterous twist
an oily stretch just the right length
to be devoured, the only
suggestion of violation
the carrion jerked to one side
in involuntary dismay.

Splayed on the soiled pavement
the dove or sparrow; dismembered
in the tangled remnants of itself
the wreck, the crane slamming once more
for good measure into the all
but dematerialized hulk,
then luxuriously swaying
away, as, gorged, glutted, the crow
with savage care unfurls the full,
luminous glitter of its wings,
so we can preen, too, for so much
so well accomplished, so well seen.

C.K. Williams
from Repair

More C.K. Williams poetry at Against Oblivion:

"The United States"

Well, I been out walking. I don't do that much blogging these days....

These days, posts have been infrequent. Mostly I've been teaching/grading, working/organizing the next issue of the journal, plowing the manuscript (which now has a revised structure and new title!), and continuing to prep for my final PhD exam which is in ten days. Once the exam is over, I figure I'll be able to justify more time blogging as this space will once again become the primary outlet for thinking aloud about poetry.

In the meantime, here's a poem by Robert Wrigley which served as a nice break last week from an essay I'm writing about Shelley's "legislators of the world."

I Like the Wind

We are at or near that approximate line
where a stiff breeze becomes
or lapses from a considerable wind,
and I like it here, the chimney smokes
right-angled from west to east but still
for brief intact stretches
the plush animal tails of their fires.
I like how the stiffness rouses the birds
right up until what’s considerable sends them
to shelter. I like how the morning’s rain,
having wakened the soil’s raw materials, sends
a root smell into the air around us,
which the pine trees sway stately within.
I like how the sun strains not
to go down, how the horizon tugs gently at it,
and how the distant grain elevator’s shadow
ripples over the stubble of the field.
I like the bird feeder’s slant
and the dribble of its seeds. I like the cat’s
sleepiness as the breeze then the wind
then the breeze keeps combing her fur.
I like the body of the mouse at her feet.
I like the way the apple core I tossed away
has browned so quickly. It is much to be admired,
as is the way the doe extends her elegant neck
in its direction, and the workings of her black nostrils, too.
I like the sound of the southbound truck
blowing by headed east. I like the fact
that the dog is not barking. I like the ark
of the house afloat on the sea of March,
and the swells of the crop hills bedizened
with cedillas of old snow. I like old snow.
I like my lungs and their conversions
to the gospel of spring. I like the wing
of the magpie outheld as he probes beneath it
for fleas or lice. That’s especially nice,
the last sun pinkening his underfeathers
as it also pinks the dark when I close my eyes,
which I like to do, in the face of it,
this stiff breeze that was,
when I closed them, a considerable wind.

Robert Wrigley
from The New Yorker, September 6, 2010

More Robert Wrigley poems on Little Epic Against Oblivion:

"Sweetbreads" (with audio)
"Do You Love Me?"

Pinsky on Labor Day


The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,
The nearly invisible stitches along the collar
Turned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians

Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break
Or talking money or politics while one fitted
This armpiece with its overseam to the band

Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,
The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,
The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze

At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.
One hundred and forty-six died in the flames
On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes—

The witness in a building across the street
Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step
Up to the windowsill, then held her out

Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.
And then another. As if he were helping them up
To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.

A third before he dropped her put her arms
Around his neck and kissed him. Then he held
Her into space, and dropped her. Almost at once

He stepped to the sill himself, his jacket flared
And fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,
Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers—

Like Hart Crane’s Bedlamite, “shrill shirt ballooning.”
Wonderful how the pattern matches perfectly
Across the placket and over the twin bar-tacked

Corners of both pockets, like a strict rhyme
Or a major chord. Prints, plaids, checks,
Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans

Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,
To control their savage Scottish workers, tamed
By a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,

Bailey, MacMartin. The kilt, devised for workers
To wear among the dusty clattering looms.
Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,

The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorter
Sweating at her machine in a litter of cotton
As slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:

George Herbert, your descendant is a Black
Lady in South Carolina, her name is Irma
And she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit

And feel and its clean smell have satisfied
Both her and me. We have culled its cost and quality
Down to the buttons of simulated bone,

The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the characters
Printed in black on neckband and tail. The shape,
The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.

Robert Pinsky
from The Want Bone