This is memoir, mostly of childhood, mixed with poetry. Here is a section.
The boy wanted the snake. Ten years old, my first husband stood by the side of the pond in the deciduous woods. The snake was thick, thick as his boyish wrist, and he was good with snakes; often caught them and took them home. Kept them alive and what passed as happy for a snake in a glass terrarium, fed them mice. His mother forbade this, despaired, eventually collapsed and gave in. She just refused to clean his room. He kept it tidy. And this snake was free of charge. Twisted on a branch out in the water, healthy skin, its sharp, glittering eyes perceived like part of its brain. Its tongue tasted the air. He tried and tried, using every trick he knew. Another, longer branch, like the snake handler he was. But the snake would not comply. The pond was too murky, too cold, too deep. The sun began to set. And then the snake swam off, in the opposite direction. Tired and muddy, he went home. And looked up the snake in his big snake book. And identified it properly for the first time. It was a species of pit viper. The world’s only semiaquatic viper, and New Jersey could be the top of its range. North America’s only venomous water snake. As an adult, it was large and capable of delivering a painful and potentially fatal bite. It was a water moccasin, and it could kill a child. He’d tell me this story more than once when we were married, and it would remain the story of the one who got away—the snake. But to me it was the story of the one who got away but was surely coming back—death.
It’s been a wonderful season for me for poetry chapbooks. First “Lama Mountain” came out from Red Bird Press and now “The Electric Palm Tree” from Flutter Press!
The poems–and essay–in The Electric Palm Tree were written several years ago at Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, Utah.
WHERE AM I?
In a landscape pitted and mined. At the edge of three million acres of the military’s bombing range. Where bombs are buried in undocumented locations. Where I can see old munitions mounds spreading out over the landscape like the ancient Mississippian city of Cahokia. Craters. Historic aircraft. A landscape big enough to lose a plane or a bomb in. A landscape that seems to make people want to drive really fast, crash into things, and blow them up.
On the boundary between Wendover, Utah and West Wendover, which is Nevada, and which sports casinos and strip clubs.
This isn’t exactly Walden Pond.
I am also giving away FREE REVIEW COPIES. You can have one to review on your blog, e-zine, magazine, or even something short on Lulu’s site under the book. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy.
Flutter Press is a micro publisher, which caught my attention. It has its roots in the small press movement of the 1970’s and 1980’s, but the technology is much prettier and faster than the stapled chapbooks of the day. I’ve been watching this for a while–seeing who can make something small and beautiful–so appropriate for poetry. Editor Sandy Benitez is of a new generation, and has created a simple and elegantly sustainable way to work. The press charges a reading fee–very modest by today’s standards–and if accepted Benitez works with the author on design and cover. The author gets books at a discount and royalties. They’ve got a nice list. My book had exactly the feeling I was looking for–an old deco-ish neon sign feeling–of a motel in the desert.
When I was an editor at Fish Drum Magazine with founder Robert Winson the mag and chapbooks were published off of a rather erratic household budget. Using pod totally sidesteps this–the publisher has no outlay beyond time, editing, and designing. Granted this is quite a bit, but most small press editors do it for love in any case. I’m working to bring the publishing arm of Miriam’s Well more consciously into a micro publisher mode.