Laura Walker: Three from “KJV”

 

genesis 

in the beginning the land lay crumpled and the air was full of tampered twigs; and between holes our feet, spinning with red yarn and clay. and the landless; and the fireless; and the small green seeds scattered faithfully across the grass, spindle and clatter

and the spoken

and the slurred

and the night was rampant, and flawed; and the fireflies swept through the darkness intent on thread and the beckoning dust

 

Twigs and mud and leaves

 

genesis 

in the beginning there were stairs and wide floorboards, and she traveled with one hand against the tumultuous wall. and the dusk gathered its stems and came in; and the air was thick and abiding

and there were the signs of cotton

and between verbs our feet

the sky was of blocks and unyielding

and each limb laced with string

 

blue moon by Tracy Olson

 

genesis 

in the beginning the skies were fragile and misshapen, and our fingers followed the creviced logic of wheels against concrete. and the children stood arrayed by the grocery carts; and the meat was brought out in white paper packages; and the tar, sticky and bereft, left out overnight to dry

and the children were small globes, suffused with glitter and morning; and we rolled them between our palms, cradling the shapes of keys and the white throats of birds. and the carts rocked with clock and spilling, cradles and bottles and the stunted edges of wire; and the girls with rubber radio boots, stamping their punctured code

and we were not yet upon the windowsills

not nodding our heads in the aisles

 


Art Information

  • "Porous" © Judith; Creative Commons license
  • "Blue Moon" © Tracy Olson; stock image

 


Laura Walker

Laura Walker’s most recent book, Follow–Haswed (Apogee Press, 2012), was created from fragments of individual entries in the sixth volume (“Follow-Haswed”) of the Oxford English Dictionary. She is also the author of bird book (Shearsman Books, 2011), rimertown/ an atlas (UC Press, 2008), and swarm lure (Battery Press, 2004). Her poetry has appeared in VOLT, Switchback, New American Writing, Thermos, and Fact-Simile, as well as other journals.

She grew up in North Carolina and now lives in Berkeley, California, where she teaches poetry at the University of San Francisco MFA in Writing Program and at UC Berkeley Extension.


 

Comments

Laura, these "genesis" poems really get under my skin. I love this passage in particular:

"in the beginning the skies were fragile and misshapen, and our fingers followed the creviced logic of wheels against concrete. and the children stood arrayed by the grocery carts; and the meat was brought out in white paper packages; and the tar, sticky and bereft, left out overnight to dry"

Given all the chatting about literary hybrids we've been doing in "Do We Need Prose Poetry?," I have to ask whether you believe these are prose poems. They work for me regardless of their "box," but I'm curious about the way you define your work.

hi martha,
thanks for your question! i guess i think of these poems as using a prose line-- they come from a longer series, and some of the stanzas are prose blocks, and some are single lines… i've written many prose poems, and these definitely draw on that, but they're different as well.

like you, i don't find the labeling or categorization of poems interesting in and of itself, but i am interested in talking about prose poems-- and part what i find fascinating about them is what might step in or begin to bloom in the absence of line breaks-- that is, whatever pressures line break, end stops and enjambment, etc., are exerting or absorbing, is now possibly transferred to something else, or something else is made room for… what is inhabiting that space now? how is it operating? and there is also, of course, what the prose poem derives not just from the absence of line break but from its own prose form-- all that form carries for us as readers, historically, visually, culturally, etc.

I've just come upon this; I know I'm a little behind the curve. I wondering if there are more of these little genesis fragments. I've been really enamored of this kind of thing ever since coming across RS Thomas' 'Counterpoint' some years ago. Any chance to see a few more of them? Can I find them all in one place?

Hi Nathaniel,
Thank you for your comments! Some of these genesis poems have been published elsewhere; you can find links to them on my website, http://laura-walker.com/more/ , under "poems online". If you'd like to see more, just contact me via my website, and I can send you others-- I've just put together a chapbook-length manuscript of them. And thank you for pointing me to 'Counterpoint'-- I haven't read it and look forward to doing so.

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