April Poetry Month (Day 5): Rita Mae Reese #npm16 #wppoets

[April Poetry Month ’16 Table of Contents]

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Rita Mae Reese is a recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Stegner fellowship in fiction, a “Discovery”/The Nation award, and a Pamaunok Poetry Prize, among other awards. An animated video from the title poem of her first book, The Alphabet Conspiracy, was showcased at the Association of Independent Commercial Producers Midwest Trade Show and can be viewed at ritamaereese.com. Her second book, The Book of Hulga, won the Felix Pollak Prize and will be published in March, 2016. She is a co-director of literary arts at the Arts & Literature Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin.

 


 

The Book of Heavenly Luminaries, or How Time Is Reckoned

You no longer trust the sun and moon.

……….Look how the moon withdraws
……….into its space capsule
……….and the sun swallows it whole.

Meanwhile your hands are strapped to day
your feet to night.

……….Someone turns the screw.

Every book you ever read is really about
minutes and their viscosity.

……….They stick to your fingers; you find them
……….in your clothes, your sheets.

Day is the Common Era
in which you built your life—
that ridiculous tower of straw.

……….Night is BCE,
……….your body laid on a map,
……….surrounded by a handful of sins.

……….Your life balanced on Zero—
……….the circle of your self—
……….a satellite tracking your every move.

Matter falls inwards perhaps for a million years.

 

Exegesis: The Tempest

Her father gone 272 days. She
……….attends parties, church, class.
People’s faces all around her
……….moving around food and words,
and her mother’s face refusing
……….to cave to grief,
while she is a ship full of men

……….near to drowning.
While she is a ship breaking apart.
……….While she is Miranda on the shore
shouting Father! Father! Father!
……….Don’t drown the men that is me.

Mostly she is in her room
……….dressed in his old shirts.
More and more she is Caliban
……….alone while the normal girls get
their shipwrecked nobles
……….delivered to their shores.

Her mother in the doorway
……….with a new green dress,
a perky Miranda from town,
……….another chore.
There’s wood enough within,
……….Hulga answers.
(Woods, she amends.)

originally appeared in Cream City Review

 

Unique Chicken Goes in Reverse

Here is young Flannery’s proudest moment:
The news crew & the whole ridiculous adult world
slowed so the five year old Southern girl
could hold them in her grasp, all because
she’d taught a chicken to go against nature,
to do something it hadn’t been known to do.
Could you teach me to walk backward too,
Flannery, to quiet my small & troublesome
brain & walk backward into faith? Look,
there you are in black & white, bantam & girl.
How long, how much of your short life,
did this take? And now, what can’t you do?

 

 

[April Poetry Month ’16 Table of Contents]

Woodland Pattern is nonprofit book center in the heart of Riverwest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We are dedicated to the discovery, cultivation and presentation of contemporary literature and the arts. 

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