Dorianne Laux, “The Rising”

Dorianne Laux
John Campbell

The pregnant mare at rest in the field
the moment we drove by decided
to stand up, rolled her massive body
sideways over the pasture grass,
gathered her latticed spine, curved ribs
between the hanging pots of flesh,
haunches straining, knee bones bent
on the bent grass cleaved
astride the earth she pushed against
to life the brindled breast, the architecture
of the neck, the anvil head, her burred mane
tossing flames as her forelegs unlatched in air
while her back legs, buried beneath her belly,
set each horny hoof in opposition
to the earth, a counterweight concentrated there,
and by a willful rump and switch of tail hauled up,
flank and fetlock, her beastly burden, seized
and rolled and wrenched and winched the wave
of her body, the grand totality of herself,
to stand upright in the depth of that field.
The heaviness of gravity upon her.
The strength of the mother.

The Book of Men, the fifth collection of Dorianne Laux‘s poems, is the winner of the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize. The book is dedicated to Philip Levine; the poem “Mine Own Phil Levine” originally appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review. Orion published “Juneau” (as “Juneau Spring”) and “Roots.” Willow Springs published “Staff Sgt. Metz,” along with a short essay about its creation.

(In 2007, Beatrice featured Laux’s “Moon in the Window.”)

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10 August 2012 | poetry |

D. Nurkse, “Sonny Stitt at the Blue Coronet”

D. Nurkse
Jeremiah Kuhlfield

His fingers don’t seem to move
as he rips through secondary dominants
of “Boplicity,” “Simone,” “Ray’s Idea.”
The alto is a golden fishhook.

Why such blazing tempi when he’ll die
in six weeks? Perhaps in heroin
there’s a calm in which you can fit
a thousand notes into one beat.

Drums, bass, Hammond organ—
these are unnamed men, faces
you’ve met all your life
and bargained with, nodded to,
yet they have no difficulty
with the subtlest modulation.

The audience is three drunks,
one cursing an imaginary waitress,
one mumbling apologies, one sleeping.

Now try to eat your extremely salted cashews
so slowly there will always be one left.

A Night In Brooklyn is the tenth collection of poems by D. Nurkse, the borough’s former poet laureate. It includes “Summertime” (originally published in The Atlantic), “The North Side” and “There Is No Time, She Writes,” “The Bars,” and “Damariscotta” (which was originally published under the title “Newfane”). Several poems appeared in Poetry; in addition to the poem that gives the collection its name, there’s The Rain-streaked Avenues of Central Queens,” “Psalm to be Read with Closed Eyes,” “The Dead Remember Brooklyn,” and “August in the Dolomites” (originally called “Engagement in the Dolomites” and then “A Marriage in the Dolomites”).

Drunken Boat first published “Letter from Home,” and they also have an audio file of Nurkse reading it.

2 August 2012 | poetry |

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