Readings: muskrat stew

George Perec’s empithalamia

This little poem
where only simple words have been used
words like daisy and broomstick
like lady-bird and cream sauce
like croissant and nonchalance
and not words like palimpsest, pitchblende, cumulonimbus,
decalcomania, stethoscope, machicolation, or
anticonstitutionally
has been specially composed
on the occasion of these nuptials

Jake from Ore Bar used to date Peter Kane Dufault’s granddaughter. This from a New Yorker obit by Brad Leithauser.

One of my favorites among his earlier poems is “On a Painting of a Mastodon in a Child’s Picture Book.” As the title promises, the vision is sketched in outsize outlines and bold primary colors: billion-year-old fossils, condors “wide as storms.” But something subtler materializes when the mastodon itself rumbles into view, and we’re asked to ponder

the groping divinity
that heaved that hulk,
heavy with ivory, forward
out of the black
cone forest and gray muskeg,
snows on his back.

Blake’s tiger is treading nearby; Dufault has found a fresh way to ask what “immortal hand” could frame so fearful a symmetry. Both poets are transfixed by the notion of a deity experimenting with megafauna, exulting in the creation of staggeringly powerful animals.

William Brewer rediscovers Appalachia

From its soot, from clay, you’d assemble your sons, their hands
assemble like air above a creek cattails

hem the edge of like a skirt
the hands slide under in the dark of your infinite

storeroom and wander. Barges
spinning on a mud-sick river. No, some canoe

deaf to the wind on a porcelain lake
black-nailed fingers of a child creep across to pick

the last bits of muskrat stew

Theis Ørntoft writes odd spare cruel verse.

Beneath the asphalt
sheep heads roll
down over steep slopes
to the factory where my children
are sewing into themselves.

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