the inner life
of strangers, or apples
or the color blue—
or a mop
left out to dry
now dusted in snow
of a distant
planet that shines
as this week’s
or the border, or boundary lines
of the pyrocantha bush
to the south
of my driveway
the back neighbor’s
to the east
you come home late—
your key in the lock
you are dreaming about
but even though
I know you
even I don’t know
Featured at http://poetrysuperhighway.com/psh/2017/09/poetry-patricia-godwin-dunleavy-and-miriam-sagan/#
Sundays in Galisteo
August 13 & 20 3pm to 6pm
Installation of Current Work
Piper Leigh’s Ancestors, Mothers & Muses series
The Forest Pilgrim & the Red Thread Ancestors
Installation using mixed media, cloth, photographs and poetry
including two new chapbooks
Catherine Ferguson’s Gallery
6 La Vega
Galisteo, New Mexico
Taking a Walk with Issa
When I drop by his hut,
Issa is sitting outside on a bench,
his eyes closed to the early sun.
He offers me tea.
I’ve brought plums. We bite into them
and slurp the juice. He laughs.
We head off down the hill,
the grass a delicate green,
soft against our shins.
Ah! he cries, and crouches.
A snail is climbing a rock,
stretching its horns to find its way.
As we continue across the meadow,
grasshoppers arc away
at our approach. We clap
and do a little grasshopper dance.
That’s how it is with Issa.
He has brought some sweet potato
for the bent-backed horse;
we join the cow as she watches
a butterfly’s flight.
On the way back,
we stop at the cemetery,
under the pines.
I once told him
of the expression
“getting over” grief.
He shook his head,
picked up a small smooth stone,
and tucked it into his pouch.
1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
It’s changed over time but I think of a single line in a poem as being almost like a frame in a film, one motion on the way to a larger object. Or maybe a gear in a machine: each one has to be crafted so that it both stands on its own and so that it moves the entire thing forward. If it’s too concerned with the micro then you end up being too clever for your own good but if it strictly exists to serve the rest of the poem then it can probably be recycled into another line with minimal hurt.
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
That’s a difficult question for me because I don’t necessarily write poetry-of-the-body but there is a connection. I draw a distinction between the spirit and the body and the former features more into my writing than the latter. However when I write too much I get physically ill, fever and exhaustion which to some extent I tend to interpret in a somewhat romantic manner which is admittedly a little ridiculous. Maybe it’s the tension between the body and the spirit that makes poetry happen, like the Smiths lyric “does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?”
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
About being a poet? I like being a poet. It’s being a person that vexes me. I mean, I don’t like the non-place that poetry has in our society right now where all art gets compared to poetry but actual poetry gets left by the wayside. In that way, poetry existing is an act of resistance.
Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist. The author of several collections of poetry, he lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
All the chimneys in this town are expelling their defiance
Constantly against the unmeasured winter
But there are no fireplaces down below
Such simplicities go against the contract
Only smoke here
Because to labor in oblivion/ is to birth an oblivion
Pure blue chemical tidal light: to labor with oblivion/ to burn a green candle
For a pure nothing, a hollow black pomegranate
We would give our meager light
How’s that for a hymn?
I’m new to this industry
But I’m quickly learning
That all original thoughts are reduced to sand and then to glass and then fertilizer
And so on and so on
What do we have left, when we sweep away the crumbs from the table?
This disintegration can be either a threat or a mercy
I leave it in your hands, my familiarity: a feather for your instrument
(Where have I heard it before?
Silver bird singing to young ears/ I should no longer be able to eavesdrop on such delicacies)
Where the distance backs into itself and each end of the uroboros thinks the other one is a ghost
Where the cold blooded and the shy congregate quietly for Sunday school
The dreamland archipelago
This work grew out of a residency at Herekeke last summer. Cover art by Isabel Winson-Sagan. Red Bird is a beautiful press in Minnesota–I so enjoyed working with them.
a black skirt bright
with red cherries
or soft chiffon
silkscreened with Paris
or New York
on a summer’s day
we made ourselves
To order: https://www.redbirdchapbooks.com/content/lama-mountain
I must go to the Creek again.
Again, I will ask only for silence
to hear the riffs
drifting by. Vagrant
and wanderer, the Creek is
captive and conveyor of storm,
its story and futurestory
the tree that falls
into it from its
eroding banks. How many
years to tumbledrum a grain
of sand a mile along its bed?
and not, the Creek brings
song to all it can,
of my innocence
(this a trespass),
eddies in the round rejoining
beginning, voice born into it.
And must I pray? I ask
how to give words to a time
stopped, the Creek creeking.
how many times have I walked across a field in America
leaving a green place behind
rows of cabbages and tiger lilies
purslane you might eat, but only very new
good-bye to you I loved and you I didn’t
back to the city
and a million pairs of shoes
and a million pairs of strangers’ eyes
in this moment I might be twelve or sixty
I promise myself I’ll return
I’ll make it right
next time, I’ll love all of you