This poem from The Difficult Farm kind of inverts me, which is one of the reasons I read. It happens to contain the title of the book, set in the midst of a very disturbing smear of grass and animal and wind. It is made somewhat of human words. Seeing Heather read recently in Atlanta made realize even more distinctly what it is about her language that spins my back. She read a series of poems from her book all while holding the book open in front of her, but almost never looking at it. The language was in her teeth. Instead, she peered around the room with eyes and watched her voice come out of her and stick to people. There was no food inside the room during this time. She recited as if instead of speaking she were being squeezed gently, deep inside her, a feeling that she had long since become used to, and had even learned in training to enjoy. Her reading voice is not robot-y as such, but like someone’s mechanical welcome creature in an area where your home was several years ago and the land is still the same, but that house smells like ammonia and the wood makes you dizzy. Words kind of giggle out of her and then appear stern, then poke you in the cheek. It’s a nice overall effect, even if thereafter you want to go find the food that was not there and put it in you to rub against the feeling the words have on your organs. It’s neat. And kind of fantastic. Here are some more fantastics, from the book:
STROKING MY HEAD WITH MY DECEPTION STICK
Someone shut down the local shimmer
but not the police who thought
it was Sunday and so spent hours
arranging their long and pliant hair.
Constable Jacques is the best man I know
but even he won’t converse with the dead.
The dead are so vain and hungry—
they will straddle your mirrors and swallow
your oak trees with their huge elastic lips.
And then you hear the screaming, not to be found
within the dead, but rather in the tiny
black pot which holds the greater part
of our mass and the difficult
farm where all the hens are black
and black are the wheatfields through which
runs a black and silent wind. Thin teachers
explain to our children: if the farm is a burgeoning
snowglobe, then the screaming’s a legend, like glass.
And again, this week the book’s on sale, with special offers at Heather’s blog.