Monday, June 30, 2014

After I Was Dead

I was entranced by all the poems in Laura Mullen's collection, After I Was Dead. Haunting, yearning, reflecting, searching and absconding, fragmenting and coalescing -- the poetic language here is written in a uniquely intimate voice. The poems have an abstract and surreal quality grounded in human emotion. The seeking and reaching toward some sort of closure, the opening and beholding the vast interstices of experiences. These poems left me in awe.

I had many favorites, including the "White Painting" series. Many I can't reproduce here because of the magical way she uses the spacing on the page (this blog would fuck it up). Here is one poem I particularly liked that I think will format well on the blog:


Where it should have been there were only memories.
They liked it anyhow and lived there. For them
The moment it fell down was the moment it lifted up:
Livable-in at last.
A pantry full of regrets; a garden
Planned out in the shape of a plan, lush
With what-might-have-been and O-if-only;
A folly where... on fine afternoons...
And the parties they threw there then, or rather,
Imagined themselves throwing, who had never been
Much for parties, but "Better late than..." -- and the rest
Of the phrase lost in laughter. Love bloomed
In the nonexistent parlor: the piano
That never was was closed, suddenly,
By the woman who looked at her hands so as not to see
The face of the young man who knelt at her side,
Enrapt. Impossible ever to know
If it was the sunlight which had faded those curtains
So slowly that no one had seen, or whether
They had been wrong about the color from the start.

And a phrase from another poem, "Structures" leaps out at me:

Always the sky, that obscene

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