The end of summer means the beginning of a new season of Collected Poets—silver linings? Thursday, October 3, 2019 at 7:00 pm, we launch our thirteenth season with poets Nickole Brown, Melissa Crowe, and Jessica Jacobs! Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)
Nickole Brown is the author of Sister, first published in 2007 with a new edition reissued by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2018. Her second book, Fanny Says, came out from BOA Editions and won the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry in 2015. The audiobook of that collection became available in 2017. She is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and teaches at the Sewanee School of Letters MFA Program and the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA. She lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs, in Asheville, North Carolina, where she periodically volunteers at three different animal sanctuaries. Currently, she’s at work on a bestiary of sorts about these animals, but it won’t consist of the kind of pastorals that always made her (and most of the working-class folks she knows) feel shut out of nature and the writing about it—these poems speak in a queer, Southern-trash-talking kind of way about nature beautiful, damaged, dangerous, and in desperate need of saving. A chapbook of these poems called To Those Who Were Our First Gods recently won the 2018 Rattle Chapbook Prize, and another sequence called The Donkey Elegies will be published as a chapbook by Sibling Rivalry Press in early 2020.
Melissa Crowe is the author of Dear Terror, Dear Splendor (University of Wisconsin Press, 2019). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Baltimore Review, Crab Orchard Review, Poetry, Seneca Review, and Tupelo Quarterly, among other journals. She is the editor of Beloit Poetry Journal and coordinator of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she teaches courses in poetry and publishing.
Jessica Jacobs is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going, published by Four Way Books in March 2019. Her debut collection, Pelvis with Distance, a biography-in-poems of Georgia O’Keeffe, won the New Mexico Book Award in Poetry and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. She received her BA at Smith College and her MFA in Poetry at Purdue University. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in publications including Orion, New England Review, Guernica, and The Missouri Review. An avid long-distance runner, Jessica has worked as a rock climbing instructor, bartender, and professor, and now serves as Chapbook Editor for Beloit Poetry Journal. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown.
A PRAYER TO TALK TO ANIMALS / Nickole Brown
Lord, I ain’t asking to be the Beastmaster
gym-ripped in a jungle loincloth
or a Doctor Dolittle or even the expensive vet
down the street, that stethoscoped redhead,
her diamond ring big as a Cracker Jack toy.
All I want is for you to help me flip
off this lightbox and its scroll of dread, to rip
a tiny tear between this world and that, a slit
in the veil, Lord, one of those old-fashioned peeping
keyholes through which I can press my dumb
lips and speak. If you will, Lord, make me the teeth
hot in the mouth of a raccoon scraping
the junk I scraped from last night’s plates,
make me the blue eye of that young crow cocked to
me—too selfish to even look up from the flash
of my damn phone. Oh, forgive me, Lord,
how human I’ve become, busy clicking
what I like, busy pushing
my cuticles back and back to expose
all ten pale, useless moons. Would you let me
tell your creatures how sorry
I am, let them know exactly
what we’ve done? Am I not an animal
too? If so, Lord, make me one again.
Give me back my dirty claws and blood-warm
horns, braid back those long-
frayed strands of every nerve tingling
with all I thought I had to do today.
Fork my tongue, Lord. There is a sorrow on the air
I taste but cannot name. I want to open
my mouth and know the exact
flavor of what’s to come, I want to open
my mouth and sound a language
that calls all language home.
Originally published in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day in July 2017 but has been published in Poems for the Planet: From Inspiration to Action, edited by Elizabeth Coleman, Copper Canyon Press, April 2019; The Enchanted Life: Unlocking the Magic of the Everyday, by Sharon Blackie, September Publishing, 2018; and The Orison Anthology, Volume 3, 2018, edited by Luke Hankins, Nathan Poole, and Karen Tucker.
THANKS, STUPID HEART / Jessica Jacobs
like for that time I’d banished her
number from every device I owned
only to find the digits scrawled on your
anterior wall. Diastole, you whispered,
relax and fill. But what did you know?
Flushing and pumping like a jellyfish
going nowhere, stuffed between my lungs’
pink wings like a flightless bird, ugly.
The trick pony of my brain was ready
to wander other pastures, wonder other
futures, but you—grown from the same stock
as courage and accord—she was your only
aim, and faithful dumb muscle you are, stupid
beautiful heart, you beat only for her.