Poetry Month SpotlightPoems by Rita Feinstein and Sarah McCartt-Jackson
We are excited to share poetry by Rita Feinstein and Sarah McCartt-Jackson, whose chapbooks have been selected by editor Kiki Petrosino for inclusion in the Mineral Point Poetry Series this fall. Rita Feinstein’s Life on Dodge will be available October 16, and Sarah McCartt-Jackson’s Calf Canyon releases November 13.
Poems by Rita Feinstein
from Life on Dodge
When you left, there was a sound
like the scraping of a dagger
being unsheathed from my heart,
and in the left-behind hollow,
a red bat came to roost.
Good, I thought, because bats go
where moths go and moths go
where the light is, which means
there’s still something like a streetlamp
in me, however dusty and guttering.
But where its corona bleeds to black,
you can still hear it—the sleek shriek
of steel against bone, the infinite echo
of you pulling away.
You have gone, and so can I.
I can go to a red planet
with no name, no coordinates.
There is no wind here, no dust,
nowhere to stake a flag. No rotation,
no view. No ocean under the crust
and no ice at the poles. There is
no gravity, no atmosphere,
and no one to name its craters.
There is not a robot to help repair
the spaceship I don’t have.
There are no giant worms in the sand.
There is no sand. There is nothing here
but not enough of it.
This planet is my home now—
might as well name it. I name it Dodge,
in the hope that someday I will
get the hell out of it. Or that it will
get out of me. It lodges deeply
in my hips, constricting its fist.
It’s a hard, round ache in my breasts.
I can taste it on the back of my tongue,
sour like beef blood. The last time
I hurt this much, we were too poor even
for a bath plug, so you filled a plastic bag
with sand and let the drain suck it into place.
It was the best you could do. The iron-orange
water held, but so did the pain.
Poems by Sarah McCartt-Jackson
from Calf Canyon
It begins with drink. Our eyes drink color and reflect it back to our brains, which drink shape. Shape drinks shade, leafshadows scrambling on their stems like starlings stuck to wire. Wire drinks voices, spliced threads chopped apart and ribosomed back together in a winding ladder propped against our earlobes. Our earbones drink the wet sounds of leaves unfolding newborn fists, the desperate sound of fish gills in a boat bucket. Our hands drink the wormblood and hook. Our foreheads drink sweat, our forearms hair and knuckle. Our ankles the mosquito tongue, dry of our neighbor’s blood. Boatplanks drink scales and shoe soles and cigarette ash and oceanfog and the heat of sunlogged turtles, which drink the cloverstem milk, which drinks the roothairs, which drink the cavelight, which drinks the batwing, drinks the limestone, drinks the fossilbone slipped between a molten stone harvest. The inner core drinks iron-tasting pennies, nickel. Not enough liquid in the world to fill its iron core. And this is how in drought I learn a rogue billet does not raise a doe’s eye, how a doe does not lift from drinking.
We watched the fires spread.
Neighbors set up their lawn chairs
to watch their neighbors’ houses burn.
Which is how I caught a bottle
to the face when I threw a cigarette
butt out the window. And how
the bottle shattered and fractured
the windshield after my jaw and how later
he didn’t remember (or said he didn’t)
how the windshield cracked,
and I told him,
and he said that wasn’t true.
And so it wasn’t true.
I did not see the moonwashed lake behind our trailer or the yellow finch in the avocado tree. I did not see the fire, the smoke of which we watched from the mustard thistle lawn. I did not see the coyotes eating the dead cattle or the California mouse while it was still alive. I did not see old Ted (all thirty-three and married) wreck on Shell Creek Road with a nineteen-year-old passenger in lip gloss and cutoffs, when it was not just ten days before he took me to a baby’s grave on our way back from buying a pack of cigarettes, and me seventeen. The freeze on the vineyard edges. The lizard drinking from the wild pig bleed. The shotgun slug through the throat of a barn owl, hanging by a wing from its owl house.
I saw what happens when girls—who are not supposed to—witness their babies’ faces. I saw the helicopters circling like released seeds, their gondola buckets of water dangling. I saw the cattle troughs dry as the Camatta creekbed and cow bodies bulked in the live oak shade. I saw a peregrine falcon tearing the mouse bones, beak to skull, hunger coagulated in its nares. A flatbed truck with whiskey and paper cups, an empty graveyard with a moon big as a belly. Reservoirs turned to sulfur. Pig hooves charred in the barbecue pit. A fifty-three-year-old owl perched in the left ventricle of my heart.
BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month 2018
Maybe you have lines living in you. Maybe you’ve been walking around like the speaker in Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones”: “This place could be beautiful, / right? You could make this place beautiful.” Maybe you’ve been inspired by Isobel O’Hare’s erasures, and have an urge to address some things. Maybe you’ve woken up in the spiked night, with a line swimming out of the deep. Maybe you have a story to tell. Or, maybe you memorized Jericho Brown’s “Colosseum” and have been repeating to yourself: “I cannot locate the origin / Of slaughter, but I know / How my own feels, that I live with it / And sometimes use it / To get the living done . . .”
These poetic efforts have touched me in the last few months, in that strange trigonometry of language, chance, and seeking, that we readers and writers do. Brown’s lines resonated with me, brought me low, and offered something – if not quite comfort, then a kind of recognition.