Thursday, March 3, 2016, at 7:00 pm, poets Doug Anderson and Patty Crane will continue the ninth season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)
Doug Anderson‘s book The Moon Reflected Fire (Alice James Books, 2002) won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 1995, and his Blues for Unemployed Secret Police a grant from the Academy of American Poets in 2000. Most recently he is the author of the poetry collection, Horse Medicine (Barrow Street Press, 2015). He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, Poets & Writers, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the MacDowell Colony, and others. He has twice been a fellow at Fort Juniper in Amherst, Massachusetts, the former home of the poet Robert Francis. His play, Short Timers, was produced at Theater for the New City in New York in 1981. His memoir, Keep Your Head Down: Vietnam, the Sixties, and a Journey of Self-Discovery, was published by W. W. Norton in 2009. He has also written film scripts and criticism. He teaches in the department of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.Patty Crane’s award-winning poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Her translations of Swedish poet and 2011 Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer have appeared in American Poetry Review, Blackbird, PEN Poetry Series, Poetry Daily, and The New York Times, among others. Bright Scythe (Sarabande), a bilingual volume of her translations, was recently released to wide acclaim. She lives in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.
LIVE MYTH / Doug Anderson
I would believe in the unicorn if it stood heaving and slathered,
snapping flies off its flank with its tail. It does not smell
of sweat and stable, does not snort at the wolf in the brush
and twitch its ears. A unicorn does not get dirty,
kick up mud when it runs. I know that I would throw
my leg over a bareback horse sooner than I’d step
into the stirrup of a saddled unicorn. For spite, I’d shoot
and slaughter one, roast choice bits over a fire, and hang
its horn from my belt, just to outrage the legions
of tourists of the imagination, the kind who flock
to séances, or invite Rasputin to tea. A unicorn
is impossibly cute, it doesn’t shit or rub its rump against a tree.
But a horse, my god, can swing its neck around at a dog’s yip
and break your jaw, can brain you with a hoof.
It makes the ground shake. Look at him, the black pool
of his eye, muscle rippling along the flanks, and how
he stands, placid, chewing, as the little girl lies on top of him
braiding his mane, whispering, my magic, my magic, my boy.
WHITE BIRCH / Patty Crane
I’d forgotten how the curled bark blushes pink sometimes,
out of dampness I suppose, or a new angle of light.
A kind of blossoming, like spring come early to these woods.
It is the salmon-petalled poppy I dug from my husband’s
grandmother’s garden after her death. Dirt rained
through my hands, exposing the severed root. I thought
I’d killed it. But all these years it keeps coming back:
mouthful of sunrise, crinkled crepe tongues. The flush
of my daughter’s cheeks as she sits in the bath weeping,
steam rising off the pale buds of her breasts,
her hands cupped like leaves beneath her nose to catch
the bleeding. Rosettes blooming in the milky water
all around her. It is the sudden tree of her
standing beside me as I guide her from the tub,
the white towel I dry her legs with and drape over her back
to brush her hair. She lets me brush her hair.
It is the stained tissue I peel from her wet face
because she lets me. Pressing a fresh one there, I think
of the blood yet to come, her other flowering, wondering
if she’ll need me then. It is the color of her needing me.