August 23, 2012

I Never Knew What a Toadstool Was Until this Poem.

Toadstool (Yes, I played Mario Kart as a child…just didn’t realize the connection).

And there are so many toadstools in my yard.  What a perfect description of something fantastical, of course toads need stools, as butterflies need hemlines and birds need weaving.  Deer might even paint their nails the colors of high school, neons and prom sparkle.

I’m already on a tangent and this review started all of two minutes ago.

High School Notes

What is it with us silly girls going from wide ruled notebook paper notes, folded up with our finger prints and ink smudged at the edges, irresistible hearts smothered on the opening flap.  We’re always writing, us bookish girls.  Us girls with too quick fingers, and so much to say that we stay quiet because we can’t let it all spill out at once.  Us silly girls, with words at the tip.  I ask this because I feel like we’ve always, or already, or sometimes, or usually write to these men.  These men with eyes that we want to describe, and shadows that are too dark, with baggage that hangs heavy on their backs.  We always want to save them, and rub their hair, let them hush the crowd of people in our minds because we’re really too smart and too witty for any of this nonsense that we go puppy for.

I feel like Amy’s collection of poems really strikes this cord with me.

I think about all the poems that I wrote in college to boys that would certainly disappear.  Don’t they always?  It’s the boys that you can’t possibly write a poem about that stay.  Poems on relationships, must be like tattooing someone’s name on your body.  You will have to break up once their inked there, initialed and stamped.  Just like you will have to break up once the words are on a page and you’re writing them out, writing them thin and ungainly in poem skinny.  I think I took so much of this from Amy’s poems because of her use of “hush.”

“Hush” came about in almost every poem, whether she was talking about weather, or voices, stomping of boots in a rain puddle or just the rainstorm itself, there’s always a hush which only leads to a silencing.  When we get further along in the collection, we find Amy, and Amy’s voice and Amy’s longing when she looks in the mirror.  We are moved from that ubiquitous “you” to the outline of “me.”  I don’t think her voice is necessarily stronger in this section, just different.

Amy, you may know from Lucy’s Football.

She has published her first collection of poems titled Out of True and it is in my hands at the moment after being scribbled through with orange ink.  I like to talk to my books with a pen when I’m trying to think, especially when they have a lot of white space.  It’s the story of Amy’s love, the long line of suitors who were no good, the ones that got away, the ones that she sees in pictures later and wonders about because of their odd expression, the slight tilt to their mouths.  It’s a gorgeous collection of love poems, with love showing in all its colors.  I think it’s a book of poems for the “normal” reader.  It’s hard to find readers of poetry who aren’t pompous assholes, hipsters, or want-to-be Anne Sextons hooked-up-to-the-electric-shock-machine.  Then there’s always those who “just don’t get it.”  I actually dislike those last ones the most.  However, I think this collection of poetry covers all of those bases.

Hipster Haiku

The hipsters will go home and put on their elbow-pad blazers and black rimmed glasses and write some beachy love poem.  The Anne Sextons will cling tightly to the line, “the woman signals both the beginning and the end/the woman always does” (Durant).  The pompous assholes will find spots of juicy never-before-used language and pocket it for their lectures and dinner parties.  The people who “just don’t get it” will get it, believe me, it’s easy.

I want to share with you my favorite poem in the collection.  I’m a person who reads poetry because it’s a moment, or a series of small moments that open into black holes, smoking.  These moments make a poem. It isn’t the large language.  It’s when you walk into the poetry store and you choose the everyday words to write a poem with, you write a poem using your kitchen utensils – those pans you scrape egg off of and put upside down into a dishwasher.  This is poetry language, it isn’t love, sorrow, grief, it’s fishing poles, light bulbs, crows in a line on a fence.

In December I am Waiting – Amy Durant

“I am standing/outside your window:

you live on the first/floor, fourth window/back along the right/side, hairline crack/along the sill. I/know this because/I often trace my initials/into the steam there.

I watch you inside/where it is warm./You smoke. I know this/because we usually/do it together./ You do not notice me./ I am pale. There is snow/in my hair, in my eyelashes./I have stopped shivering.

As I watch, I am loyal/to the end: even as the snow/wraps me in white cotton batting,/ I trace my initials/on the wrong side of the  window,/place a faint handprint/where it can be seen.

Someone may ask you/what these things mean./It is alright not to know” (66).

Don’t you want to make a snow angel and blow fog onto the glass, trace a small face into the steam, put your hands back into the shelter of gloves and body heat?

4 comments so far.

4 responses to “I Never Knew What a Toadstool Was Until this Poem.”

  1. The poem you have included is lovely BUT do you realize your post sounds like poetry?
    I thought that’s what I was reading, in paragraph form. Take another look– it’s amazing–do you feel the rhythm, especially the first three paragraphs?

    • Cassie says:

      This is like the best compliment I’ve ever received. I want all my writing to sound like poetry because that is the kind of book I absolutely love to read. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I will have to re-read what I wrote aloud and see if I can feel the rhythm. : ) YAY!

  2. Bea says:

    Yes, beautiful writing here, and also in the book you reviewed. Thanks for the enjoyable read, as always.

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Hi, I’m Cass

I am a writer, educator and genuine creative living on the coast of NC. Our house is built on sunshine with my husband BJ, dog named Tucker, and our two very sassy cats: Fromage and Jasper.

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