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Tag: Four Way Books

Reading David Dodd Lee




Spin the big wheel of weather. So it’s seven
degrees. I could have sworn it was balmy and getting ready

        to storm
eight minutes ago. One definition of a slob is someone

who runs out to the street through a foot of snow in slippers
and a t-shirt to get the mail. And falls down. I close my eyes to

        the weather
and see black lemons floating on white water.




The deer’s face points downriver, marble-still, cold
eye into the wind, staring into the flashlight. Engine’s shut off,

        snow on
the high banks. I slice her open on-site, organs spilling

into the water. Do the falling parts know that she’s gone yet?
And the animal with its great black floor takes passage. She doesn’t

        need to
worry anymore. The creek’s stars quiver and absorb her. I light

my last cigarette. Barter trumps money in these woods.
Now her neck muscles are flowing out into the falling snow,

        hooves streaming
up into the gray machine… The eyes are deep set, polished already.

I’m still in awe. Later, I remove the head. She smells of wet rocks
and trees. I light a joint, rub the burn scars on my arm, remove

        the wire
frame for the gray fox, place the doe’s head on the fleshing table.

I boil water. The body drains in the carport. I don’t fear being away
from them anymore. It’s quiet and the phone never rings.




The joy cannot continue,
cannot extinguish the fire in

        the bathtub,
the sirens roving from room to room

in the small house just down the hill
from the seven large houses, candles in

        every open
doorway. This is how you see in the dark, he says,

and he takes her hand in his hand, her hand
holding a yellow pencil, and he crosses words out.




I can’t see you.
Semblance. I mean
The rain. The black

Rain. It’s night you
Know, fingernails. Dragged.
And bitten off.




They’re back-shot, black blood; we get the noon re-
port. It’s divided into pieces—they aren’t out there. They

        curve over
the wires. Hello, death in Africa, to me in my underwear.

Here’s a blueprint of my pocket. When my face was wrapped
in muslin I could feel the dying animals, the places where they

        left salt
in my brain. Child, camel, things burned: what memories of

these will I bring with me out of the grave? Everyone has to
deal with lint. I pick the stuff off my aloe plant, it flows up

        out of
the baby’s mouth and she’s laughing like a dead jazz singer.




all from David Dodd Lee’s Animalities (Four Way Books, 2014)




“We wave to him from underneath / our opened black wings”: Reading Jay Baron Nicorvo


Deadbeat To those of you out there who may have forgotten the details, or are currently available, Jay Baron Nicorvo will be reading at Western Michigan University in the Bernhard Center, Rooms 208-209, at 8pm tonight!

In preparation for tonight’s festivities, I decided to dedicate part of my day to rereading his first poetry collection, Deadbeat.

I always like to share a few poems—for those who may not know or may not have read the writer’s work before, or may not own any of his/her work—and this time, well, let’s just say that I struggled. . .because there are SO many poems that I wanted to share! I ended up settling on the following eight—

“Ruthless and Brutal, Deadbeat Wants the World.”
“Deadbeat Thrown on the Potter’s Wheel, and at Sea.”
“Cosmos Certainly Silly.”
“Mistake the Window for the World”
“The Hope for Physical Deformity”
“Paradigm Shift”
“Into the Undrinkable Atlantic”

—though it obviously would not be fair to the publisher for me to share so many, so I (through gritted teeth) narrowed the selection down to the following five shorter poems (I was aiming for four, and I just couldn’t decide). I hope you find as much enjoyment in them as I do, and I hope you’ll attend the reading tonight!




How do planets pass for stars? Less
stars. The corona that rings the moon,
stupid satellite—no halo, no crown.
Such metaphors for so big a thing make
the cosmos certainly silly. Tomorrow,
they’ll have snow. The elm, engraving
that face up there more panda than man,
is soon to sag under whiteweight. If some see
the world in a grain of sand, is Deadbeat
to understand fallen stars in snowflakes?
In the end—or at it—an hour’s nothing
if not an hour, and the moon’s seas aren’t seas.
They’re nothing. Nada into nada. Sealess.




Deadbeat is a closed window.
Reflections in glass
are poems of sand.

A scrub jay, chased
by two larks,
convulses beneath the sill.

He watches the tangelo tree,
waits for a fruit to land
and echo the thump

made by the bird
that mistook the window

for the world.




As a boy, Son of Deadbeat cupped his hand
over every flashlight he found,

turning peek-a-boo fingers into a bloodrun
dusk. Sky, invisible after dark, scatters

what adult sense of self he knows—

In Deadbeat’s closet, a curiosity: a baby
rattle devised from a water bottle

and the foreshortened bones
of thalidomide limbs.




Son of Deadbeat makes out his first and last initials
in the dark windows of a toppled highrise.
A girl with sad teeth like bits of eggshell

tells him he’s a bobble-head doll. He nods.
Inside his chest, the fraught lubdubs start
sounding like applause—resting curbside,

a white pump, whim of a beatnik bride’s maid.
The outside becomes a porcelain tub,
emptied, as debris fills distance between debris.

Ground rises to meet a settling sky as he fathoms,
for a moment, how much space space holds.




Everyone around Deadbeat dies
of something, slow rot of blood and bone—
finite heartchurn. Deciduous trees play
dead. He hears the industry of marrow
failing. Diaphragm cells, red corpuscles,
whish through clots, through plaque.
He shakes with the dead skin he sheds.
As he says, I’m dying, the sun, still,
rises, seagull perched—soot and stone.
The tired woman who emptied his cup
wades into the undrinkable Atlantic.




Nicorvo, Jay Baron. Deadbeat. Tribeca: Four Way Books, 2012. Print.




“We wave to him from underneath
our opened black wings.” is from Nicorvo’s poem, “Vigil,” from Deadbeat.




Also, after reading “Head,” a shout-out to Robert Creeley.




If you’re interested in purchasing Nicorvo’s collection, please visit Four Way Books!