Saturday Dec 02

LeithauserHailey--creditSandraBeasley Hailey Leithauser is the author of Swoop, which won the Poetry Foundation's Emily Dickinson First Book Award and will be published by Graywolf in the fall of 2013. Her work appears widely in journals and anthologies including the Antioch Review, Agni, The Gettysburg Review, Poetry and Best American Poetry.


A story,
a story (a
rhapsode is
a drama,
a drama
(a sighing slips
from her),
a thief on
the job,
the rust-trunk
of memory (the
rhapsode says
to borrow or rob;
an urge to
divulge (a surge to
a lament,
a foment,
a soupçon and pinch-
bit (I
never...) of succulent
torment (I always,
I ever),
a fathomed
of first
person rations
(a grand
deemed prurient,
and pertinent,
and food for
the nation.

Whither the Lamplight,

huggermuggery fan-dance,
                                             or so ask
the poets, and, homage aside, asks I.
Whither the blackcloth, the blindfold, blind eye,
whispered apocrypha, tumbrel-trod risk,
and whence the appeal of such minds areel,
such minds as ours, our internal curtsies
and barnstorms at half-light, our small, hearty
awes, our deadman’s hand tells. Whither the fell
of the rotted wheel-rut, the shanghaied, old
nebulae, dirty old snowballs, whence urge
of the skull-lip atremble, the largesse
from forfeit, dodgier moon, whence scald, scald
of words as they fall, their vein-purr, myrrh-stain:
Niagara, Niagara, O roar again!
from the Grandiloquent Dictionary


When junk gives a shudder, like a tractor
more quaint than intact, like lapsed reactors,
pipes worn and contorted, a Toyota
that’s done for, or outdated aorta.


Think of the yowl of three senile felines.                  
Think of a buzz-saw’s black, sauerkraut whine.
Imagine ten screeched, unleashed violins.
Imagine the dawn that follows the gin.


Saw me in half, suspend or submerge me,
light me on fire and swallow the key;
I’m your one sure ruse, no smoke, no mirrors,
no flinch of fear or visible wires.


Poor Dan is in a droop, muddled with dope
he’s dropped and skin-popped and snorted and smoked,
pie- and glass-eyed, coked up without question,
happy past any best-laid redemption.


Ever since fabled Madam I’m Adam,
our stunned cerebellums have stammered dumb,                                          
our backbones and bowels, our ludicrous knees
flinched and quivered like a young Sweet Gum tree.


These ten animals I slam in a net:
a flat-foot, knock-kneed flock of fat egrets,
a damp lamb, dumb ram, a wing-withered drake,
a limp, listless slither of tongue-tied snakes.


Is this cattle or yak? Or sly, hybrid
zooid that’s stacking the deck? Not the kid
of a goat, not a male lama glama,
not even its own cud-chomping mama.


Her canvas: American Vanitas,
morbid enough, and sufficiently crass
to repel a leper, shock all cynics,
appal psychotics, and charm the critics.


Too sad a soot he tracked along his road,
too flat and dragged his foot, too hammer-toed,
too bereft of sidecar or plush chauffeur
to be shod with a misnomered loafer.


photo credit: Sandra Beasley