Lupercalia

The title poem from my chapbook Lupercalia. Written back in Fall/Winter 2010 when I first started at Goddard’s MFA program. That means this poem is almost 10 years old!

Lupercalia

Last year the city ran down to the frozen river. She threw her face against the rocks, the tatters of her brain crystallized as they oozed from her broken eyes. When we found her we combed the tangles from her hair, rose quartz stained with a grey sky kept us fed for weeks.

Now, what’s left of her slinks through the night like a wolf and you can only see her out of the corner of your eye.

She has not yet forgiven us for the highway stretching on and on forever, crusted with burnt-sugar kudzu and the bones of lovers who will never return.

This year I eat a salt cake in her honor and burn my tongue in the tiny campfire my mother taught me how to make when she and the city were so very young. I pluck out my eyes with the last of the winter roses and let their thorns curl down my cheeks.

Next year, when my voice returns, I will cut it out again.

Read the full chapbook here.

Photo by salem abu al qumsan on Unsplash.

Poem of a Poet I Admire

after the death of Wislawa Szymborska

February 1, 2012

I take the petit four

of your poem and put

it in my mouth,

let my tongue soak it up—

soft words

dissolving

soft as a

spring weekend

—inhale the sugar flower.

The decadent scrim

of icing glosses over

everything.

The sun rises and the sun

sets and I eat

this cake and you are

no longer here. In this world

a violet grows at the edge

of yard and street,

efficiently crystallizes

into another poet’s

greedy panting

despite your vacant house,

your supercilious cat,

and your mouth that

will never eat cake again.

I am eating

cake and I am not

efficient. Pieces of your

poem clot against my teeth

and I cannot speak.

*

This poem was first published in Requiem Magazine and appears in both my chapbooks. I put it in both Girl + Muse and Lupercalia because I love it and the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska very much. Saying I love her work isn’t enough, really, but it’s the best I can do now.

When I was growing up, as a baby poet in college, surrounded by all the “great voices” my creative writing professors had raging boners for told me I had to read and respect because they were the great, white male voices, Szymborska kept me out of the mindset of conformity and academic elitism because she wrote about real struggle, real human suffering so perfectly. Her and Ginsberg.

Note: My grad school professors were much better than my college professors.

Here’s an article from the Poetry Foundation about the great WS.

Here’s my favorite poem by her.

*

Photo by Deva Williamson on Unsplash

I just want to say I know the cake in this picture isn’t a petit four. I scoured the internet looking for not copywritten pictures of petit fours and couldn’t find one that fitted my feelings. This cake works. If you have a picture of a gorgeous, yummy pastry, please share it with me. Thanks!

Check out my chapbooks here 🙂