Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Martha Collins - Blue Front

I'm still going through stacks of books from 2006 (even as books from 2007 are starting to arrive!), and I've just reread Blue Front, by Martha Collins.

She read here in Maryville last night. If you ever get a chance to hear her read from this book, I recommend you go.

I wrote down a paragraph about how much I like this book, and now I've misplaced it. If and when I find it, I'll place it here. Until then, here are a couple sections from this most amazing book-length poem.


Anyone can get it wrong, laying low
when she ought to lie, but is it a lie
for her to say she laid him when we know
he wouldn’t lie still long enough to let
her do it? A good lay is not a song,
not anymore; a good lie is something
else: lyrics, lines, what if you say dear sister
when you have no sister, what if you say guns
when you saw no guns, though you know
they’re there? She laid down her arms; she lay
down, her arms by her sides. If we don’t know,
do we lie if we say? If we don’t say, do we lie
down on the job? To arms! in any case,
dear friends. If we must lie, let’s not lie around.


as a mirror on a wall, or the fall
of a dress. a dress, a shirt on a line
to fasten to dry. on the rack, or back
in the closet again, a sweet curse
on it all, sliver of nail, delayed
attack. shamed creature, a curse
on itself, so the act of doing it
changes the verb, tense with not
quite right. with rope, like a swing
from a tree. from a pole, like a flag,
or holidays, from an arch lit white
with lights. in the night, in the air
like a shirt. without, or with only
a shirt. without, like an empty sleeve.


At 1/31/2007 2:12 PM, Blogger Matthew Thorburn said...

John, I was happy today to get the new issue of Pleiades in the mail and see your poem in there -- right up front on page 1, no less. Nice work!

(And how timely, what with Martha Collins in the issue too...)

At 2/01/2007 6:40 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Is she? That's great news, as I love her work (and her work with FIELD). As for PLEIADES... sooner or later I'll actually see that issue. Mail delivery out here in the fallow corn is slow. Cow currier slow.

At 2/01/2007 12:47 PM, Blogger Steven D. Schroeder said...

The sonic wordplay here reminds me of my favorite aspect of Larissa Szporluk's poetry. Perhaps it should be the other way around...

At 2/03/2007 9:36 AM, Blogger Sam of the ten thousand things said...

"Hang" is a great piece. Strong mix of language & imagery. Thanks for posting it.


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